Hunger Gives You a Headache

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Cascabuhlo's debut disc is dedicated to Jackson do Pandeiro who, with Luiz Gonzaga, popularized the roots music of northeastern Brazil throughout the country in the ‘40s and ‘50s. This is another Recife-area Mangue Beat crew (the cover calls it a "Mangue Forró Manifesto from Recife"), one which falls closest to the Mestre Ambrosio folklore update camp. Most of the songs are originals by lead singer Silvério Pessoa but the accordion romps "17 Na Corrente" (a song about the Brazilian equivalent of the numbers), "Xodó de Sanfoniero," and "Balanço de Maria" are homages taken from Pandeiro's habitual repertoire.

Despite his prominent role on these tracks or the vibrantly upbeat "Na Bocada Da Mata," accordionist Genaro isn't even a member. The opening "Vendedor de Amendoim" and minimalist rhythm slant to "Pau de Quirí" reveals Cascabulho as basically a roots percussion sextet with bass, accordion generally light guitar and Pessoa's lead vocals. Which puts them very much in Mestre Ambrosio territory on a "Prosa De Rio É Oferenda De Siri" and "A Mulher de Mané Amaro," though the latter strategically weaves in samples, heavy guitar and some rap.

The rowdy guitar crops up elsewhere, usually mixed pretty far back to work like a subliminal presence a la the boisterous "Boi Catimbó," with its loping drums and percussion feel (kinda like you're tumbling downhill) punctuated by propulsive cymbal crashes. But "Quando Sonhei Que Era Santo" returns to acoustic guitar and accordion "Festança No Canavial" is as celebratory as you'd figure before ending with a drum & fife finale that's probably a pretty faithful re-creation of a rural style.

Hunger Gives You A Headache is an accomplished debut that shows Cascabulho have carved out their niche in the Recife scene. They're more rockin' than Mestre Ambrosio, but more acoustic traditional than Chico Science & Naçao Zumbi's heavy surdo thunder, Mundo Livre S/A's quirky rock, or DJ Dolores' mix culture take on northeastern roots. But the group's identity is still muddled--it's easier to describe how their sound differs a little from their peers than what their style is and that has to make you wonder if they really don't have one yet.