Various Artists, “Red Hot + Rio 2″ (Red Hot)
The summery, breezy songs that make up the latest compilation from the Red Hot Organization might just be the official soundtrack of the season. A tribute to the ’60s Tropicalia movement of Brazil, “Red Hot + Rio 2″ is one of the most listenable records to come across our desk in months.
Alternating among English, Portuguese and Spanish, this hip, multi-culti offering features familiar and unfamiliar names, songs and voices. But at every turn, this two-disc set surprises and triumphs, thanks to careful curation. And it’s the 17th compilation to “raise money and awareness to the fight against AIDS.”
The big names are here: David Byrne, Beck, John Legend and Bebel Gilberto. The indie stars, too: Beirut, Devendra Banhart, Of Montreal, Seu Jorge and Os Mutantes.
The quality of the songs and recordings is extremely high. Ticklah’s dubby remix of Curumin’s “Ela” is a flashy jam. Beirut’s “O Leãozinho” is a rhythmic stunner. Alice Smith and Aloe Blacc’s “Baby” is a sweet and gentle jaunt. Jorge’s assist on Beck’s “Tropicália” gives the song an added groove.
This record is easy to like. And it’s even easier to dance along to. –Ricardo Baca