We asked to different musicians, producers, bloggers, journalists, label owners to make a short list of their best albums of this year. This is the list curated by Brazilian guitar master Edinho Gerber.
This album ticks so many boxes of things that turn me off, but there is such concise creative direction and statement that it has forced me to reevaluate my musical prejudices. Ava Rocha posses an artistic freedom that I haven’t heard in years and, although it is strongly born from an era long past, points to a hopeful future in an otherwise decadent cultural moment in Brazil.
Yamandú Costa is one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Period. He has a versatility on the instrument that often takes him away from the style where he truly shines, the largely overlooked traditional folk music from the pampas of southern Brazil. Although I prefer “Continente” (his first truly commited return to the style), his pairing with accordion phenom and fellow gaúcho, Renato Borghetti, grooves so hard and can only be executed by a handful of hands in activity today. Yamandú’s maturity has taken him past virtuosity to a point where true emotion emanates from and transcends his instrument.
I was never really a fan of Radiohead. Sorry, but the emotional scope of their music is extremely narrow and I have a hard time identifying much stylistic variance. That’s why Johnny Greenwood continues to amaze me with his scoring work. Of course you can hear Radiohead trademarks, but his musical scope is constantly becoming wider and last year’s Phantom Thread and You Were Never Really Here show him at the peak of his prowess.
I was very hesitant to put this on my list (especially because it meant leaving off a brand new John Coltrane record!!!). Much of it is easily disposable but the title track has been an amulet I’ve carried as Brazil navigates the most disturbing and challenging moments in its fragile and infant democracy. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that one the elder statesmen of MPB’s last important era and prisoner and exiled dissident of the dictatorship could help make this palatable in a way that has eluded younger artists.
I’m sure if he reads this he’ll roll his eyes (virgos!), but Ben Lamar Gay’s Grapes is the album I listened to the most this year. The unfortunate side effect of this moment of prolific achievement is that some things fall to the wayside. Grapes is Ben’s best record and I hope it gets discovered by as many people as possible. As much as his vision is international, nothing transports me to Chicago more than this record.