Tropicalia (the band) is no more; long live Os Tropies.

Os Tropies invite you to celebrate their new release

Os Tropies invite you to celebrate their new release. From left: Graham Campbell, Dave Atkinson, Amy Medvick, Carlie Howell, Fraser McEvoy and Eric Woolston.

That’s the short version of an updated announcement we mentioned in our post (Tropicalia, transformation and magic) last August 2012. That’s when the group played the final gig under their former name, and true to their promise, they are back: Now known as Os Tropies (their own nickname for themselves), the project relaunches with a new EP featuring original material and a series of shows at The Piston in Toronto this February.

Album art by Amy Medvick

Album art by Amy Medvick

The band emerges from a writing and recording cocoon that songwriter and lead singer Amy Medvick previously described this way:

“Our focus is shifting from being primarily a cover/tribute band to working more on original material. Of course, I don’t think we will ever give up playing our favourite Os Mutantes or Novos Baianos tunes, it’s way too much fun! But writing in this style is truly exciting and liberating. I feel like there really isn’t any territory that isn’t open to a tropicalista, now more than ever. I’m writing in equal parts English and Portuguese and incorporating anything that inspires me.”

Though they will continue to feature tropicalismo classics in their live shows and recordings, the EP, appropriately titled TROPICALIA!, marks their metamorphosis from a cover band  to one that writes and performs original tunes. On the five-song CD, Medvick’s lyrics in English, Portuguese and French ride energetic grooves drawing from the group’s steady mix of bossa nova, psychedelic rock, and samba references, all in keeping with tropicalia tradition.

Les Chattes Jolies (available for free download

In true Toronto tropical-lovin’ fashion, Os Tropies have put together a whole mess of fun and unique musical support for the series of shows comprising their EP release residency at The Piston. Each Wednesday night show has its own theme, based around honouring one or more of the band’s crucial tropicalismo references. (Says drummer Eric Woolston: “You can choose your favourite flavour of Brazilian psychedelic spirit possession, or collect the whole set!”)

1968: A original (the original) … 

2013: E a homenagem! (… and the tribute!)

The group’s photo shoot for the EP release pays homage to the photography for the landmark album Os Panis et Circenses (on which artists like Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Tom Zé, Os Mutantes and Gal Costa all collaborated), down to sly nods to the 1968 classic like the picture frame, the boho-mystic-hippie chic of the day and the fellow agitators and allies in the movement.

Supporting artists during the February residency include Aline Morales, Maria Bonita and the Band, Petra Glynt and other locals on the live act side (two guest live bands plus Os Tropies at each show), as well as a host of weekly rotating DJs including Uma Nota founding resident DJ General Eclectic, Firecracker, Maylee ToddDavid Dacks, Friendlyness and Sandro Perri.

The original Tropicalia movement and its artists were nothing if not products of their era. Os Tropies, in resurrecting, celebrating and re-visioning the music in all its theatricality and exuberance, create their own Toronto-born interpretation with style to spare. A singular feat for any band, at any time of the year, much less a mid-week residency during the city’s coldest months — still, there is plenty of substance behind Os Tropies’ confidence in their series.

Os Tropies play The Piston (937 Bloor St. W.) in Toronto on Wednesdays February 6, 13, 20 and 27. All shows start 10 p.m. Cover charge is $5 and the EP is $5. More information is available on the Facebook event page or on the band’s website

Uma Nota Culture is supporting this event series.