BRAZIL - The land of hot bods, Havaianas, Christ The Redeemer and, now, the venue of the most beautiful game.
As the world's eyes converge on the largest Latin American nation for the World Cup, it's easy to invoke stereotypes but not see its amazing diversity.
This week, let's sieve fact from fiction in four Brazil-related releases.
The equivalent of...: Watching a documentary of modern Brazil's history.
Brazilian icon Caetano Veloso, 71, co-pioneered the avant-garde Tropicalia movement in the late 1960s with folks such as Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes, Tom Ze and Gal Costa. He is still pushing the envelope despite his well-earned elder statesman repute.
Abracaco, which means "a big hug" in Portuguese, is the last of an inspired trilogy that is pivoted on a sparse electric trio and his own voice.
Any good?: A resounding yes. Abracaco, originally released in 2012 but now reissued with English translations, proves it is possible to be both brainy and moving.
Veloso pays tribute to Joao Gilberto, the father of bossa, in A Bossa Nova E Foda, a ruddy and decidedly funky ode with a rude title that cannot be translated here. Along the way, he name-drops mixed martial artists Vitor Belfort and Anderson Silva and even Bob Dylan, whom he hails as the Jewish Bard of Minnesota.
Elsewhere, he switches modes with the grace and agility of a master: bravely skeletal on O Imperio Da Lei, a possible allusion to the murder of political activist Sister Dorothy Mae Stang, and disarmingly sensual on the gently strummed ballad Quando O Galo Cantou.
How Brazilian is this?: Very, and heroically.
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ARTO
The equivalent of...: Chilling out at an open-air restaurant in Seminyak, Bali, munching on crab claws while watching an arthouse movie at the same time.
This double-disc retrospective juxtaposes yin-yang sides of this American expatriate: rough-edged punk missives playing off Brazilian-influenced balladry.
Any good?: A ridiculous yes. Lindsay is an acquired taste, but what taste. His perfectly imperfect voice is a gently strangled chicken's. It's foil to gorgeous balladry baste in Tropicalia.
Such pieces as Ridiculously Deep and Complicity caress as they probe.
Personagem (for Paula Hiroe) synthesizes tradition and urbanity - jaunty street rhythms with pulsating club beats as he purrs in Portuguese.
In comparison, his live performances, recorded in 2011 and 2012, are fearless.