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21st Century Girl

Brazzaville

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Album Review

In the booklet to the CD edition of Brazzaville's seventh album, 2008's 21st Century Girl, group founder David Brown sports a mustache and vintage sport coat that makes him look like a budget-store version of Brad Pitt and puffs a cigarette as he displays an easy and ineffable cool. Brown's look is a good match for his music, and 21st Century Girl is 50 minutes of graceful internationalist pop that glides from one style to another with an aplomb that seems almost effortless. An American expatriate living and working in Spain, Brown reveals a clear fondness for the relaxed Latin rhythms of the samba, which informs songs like "Up All Night," "Leo," and "The Hills of Anatolia," but that's hardly the only color in his palate; Brown lays a slinky reggae groove into the title track, there's a touch of a country shuffle in "Anabel," there's a subtle urgency to "Hoover St." that suggests Brown is up on his contemporary indie pop, and "Baltic Sea" and "The Clouds of Camarillo" recall Mark Eitzel's quieter and more introspective work with American Music Club. Not that Brown's music reflects Eitzel's often dour worldview — while 21st Century Girl isn't devoid of heartbreaks or dashed hopes, Brown's songs speak of a modest but genuine joie de vivre that gives a pleasing glow to this music, and Brown's collaborators — Paco Jordi on guitar, Richie Alvarez on keys, Brady Lynch on bass, and Juan Ramón Aragall on drums — fill out the arrangements with taste and skill, letting the spaces between the notes say as much as the notes themselves. 21st Century Girl is sometimes too relaxed for its own good, but if the album ambles a bit, it never trips and falls, and this is contemporary hipster exotica for anyone who ever wished Lloyd Cole had developed a Latin influence somewhere down the line.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Led by Beck saxophonist David Brown, Brazzaville's exotic, globally minded indie pop was as much a product of Brown's extensive travels as it was the Los Angeles coffeehouse scene from whence most of its members came. Born in L.A., Brown had been a teenage runaway and heroin addict before cleaning up and finding a new lease on life from his love of traveling the world on the cheap. He criss-crossed Europe, South America, and Asia, picking up musical influences from the Far East, Brazil (bossa nova...
Full Bio
21st Century Girl, Brazzaville
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