Brazil had a good year musically – there were strong returns to form from some of the country’s most established singers. These included a 49th album from the great Caetano Veloso (now seventy!) and a cameo by Marisa Monte at the London Olympics (with of course Rio’s on the way.) And not least was an astonishing new record by Gal Costa, updating her sound to the glitchy twenty-first century while sacrificing nothing of its soul.
At the same time newer artists continued to emerge and consolidate. Folky teen star Mallu Magalhaes unveiled a great new album (and vampy new look) while (former) rapper Criolo smashed with his amazingly diverse and soulful “No Na Orelha” – the most exciting Brazilian album, for me, in some time.
And there was also Lucas Santtana with this:
Meanwhile across the Atlantic an unexpected new power was rising. Angola was the year’s biggest surprise for me – the previously little-known Lusophone outpost in Africa snuck up on the world’s cultural radar, thanks largely to its homegrown electro-export kuduro, and continues to punch far above its weight. As its music begins to make an impact across Southern Africa, Brazil and Mediterranean Europe it is also becoming more diverse – from the rap of Titica (above) to the surprisingly lilting and lovely sounds of Aline Frazao, commercial R&B and wonderful reissues of the Afro-Latin sounds of the swinging Luanda 60s.
Chile was the other emerging hotspot.
Described in a recent travel supplement as “the nerdy one in Latin America” I had never considered the very small, and very ‘white’, country a musical force – not even when I was there. But this year I was proven wrong. The country’s small but perfectly formed pop industry pumped out everything from vogueing anthems, see Alexander Antwander in the post above, to MGMT-ish Astro, Bollywood and this track above, one of my favourites of the year.