Various Artists

Nu Brazil 2: Fresh Sounds from the Country of Tomorrow

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Lasting for 28 tracks and about two hours, this two-CD set is similar to its predecessor, Nu Brazil: Fresh Sounds From Today's Brazil, which likewise was a very wide-ranging compilation of the sounds of Brazilian pop at the beginning of the 21st century. If anything, the accent's on slightly later early-2000s recordings than on the previous volume; although dates aren't given for all of the cuts, it's safe to assume that most or all of them came out in the years immediately preceding the anthology's 2004 release. Brazil being such a large and diverse country, musically and otherwise, it's hard to summarize the breadth of styles here in a single paragraph. Generally it could be said, though, that while some of the more easygoing cuts conform to the Western world's most prevalent image of Brazilian pop -- swaying rhythms, sultry suave vocals, and almost lounge-jazzy arrangements -- there are also interactions with a lot of different contemporary forces as well. There are mergers of more identifiably Brazilian traits with funky jazz, Afro-pop, bottom-heavy R&B dance music, rap, dancehall reggae, and more. For something that's supposed to be the cream of the cream, though, it seems to tilt toward bland easy listening too often. It's the more unusual (and, to the ears of some, less Brazilian-sounding) songs that stand out the most, like Tuzé de Abreu's "Orientacao," with its sad melody and oddly jaunty background scat vocals, and Siri's "No Tranco," whose junkyard funk has echoes of New Orleans.

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