We’ve often been told in these heady days of the Internet that we don’t need radio stations, record labels, or, cough cough, music critics, because listeners have easy access to music and no longer require gatekeepers. I’m a music critic and I still rely on such gatekeepers myself—without any sort of filter or direction I’d be wasting an awful lot of time slogging through the torrent of music that’s sitting out there on the web, waiting for discovery. The dirty secret is that most of that music sucks. The British record label Mais um Discos has emerged in the last few years as an important guide to contemporary music emerging from Brazil, a massive nation with an overwhelming amount of interesting musicians. I’m usually not too keen on regional compilations of music, as geography doesn’t guarantee quality, but the label’s recent two-CD collection Rolê: New Sounds of Brazil is a superb overview of the country’s pop underground—where regional styles collide with indie rock, hip-hop, and electronic music in all sorts of ways.

There are plenty of duds among the 43 tracks; but the majority of the songs are pretty darn good, with plenty of revelations. There are inclusions by veteran artists like Arnaldo Antunes, Lucas Santtana, Dona Onete, and Rodrigo Amarante, but most of the tunes are by folks I’ve never heard previously. It’s a pretty fantastic way to spend a couple of hours and learn what’s really happening in Brazil—the recent World Cup brought us yet more attention on bossa nova that was a half-century old or Tropicalistas from the late 60s. There’s been a lot of music made since then. For today’s 12 O’Clock Track I’m sharing “Menino Horrível” by Amabis, a beautiful, deliciously hushed ballad in which the singer’s tender voice unfolds patiently over mesmerizing tendrils of electric guitar.