Serapicos – Serapicos is a Town (2012)

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Gabriel Serapicos sounds like what would happen if the Magnetic Fields starred in a film by Wes Anderson. But even that’s not completely right.

Memorably unvarnished and weirdly mysterious, Serapicos is a Town doesn’t fit into any preconceived notion. It feels, at times, very similar found art — something from completely outside the expected parameters. Serapicos, a Brazil-based singer-songwriter, portrays nothing so much as his own rugged individuality, taking stunning chances with form, ignoring every pop convention.

Put another way: He’s all over the place.

Serapicos can be filled with a white-knuckle rage (as with the “we are made of anger” chorus on the album’s thrumming opener “There is No Satisfaction”; the brush-off “I Just Want to be Your Friend”), with weird portent (as on the strangely affecting, sometimes entirely off-key “Artists are Crazy”), with a horny humorousness (“Blow Me,” which sounds like a sweetly conveyed power pop song, until you listen a bit more closely to the narrative), with a devastated sadness (“Lucky Numbers,” which finds Serapicos swinging, for a moment, into the bone-deep baritone of Nick Cave), with punky attitude (the tough-minded, breakfast-themed “The Egg Song”), with a love-lorn hopefulness (on the rousing confection “Sexy Julia,” which is maybe about a guitar?).

Then, there are times when Serapicos is something all together unquantifiable, as on “Russian Roulettes and Persian Carpets,” which plays out like a college rock song as performed by Bobby “Boris” Pickett, but with a doomy attitude straight out of the Cure.

The title track, a paean to the Portuguese-speaking town that gave his family its name, finds Serapicos — after all of this atom-smashing, genre-bending experimentation (some of it, maybe most of it, obviously for fun) — playing things completely, utterly straight. That may be the most surprising moment on an album stuffed with them.

People throw around the word unique to a degree these days that nothing seems all that different. They haven’t heard Serapicos is a Town. I couldn’t begin to tell you where this place actually is, but it sounds incredibly interesting.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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