Dawn Landes, Janet Jackson

Dawn Landes
Fireproof
Cooking Vinyl/Shock
4/5
Landes’ debut is a little bit folk, a little bit country, and a little bit indie rock. She uses her very gentle Suzanne Vega-esque voice to good effect, mostly avoiding sounding cloyingly cute. Her songs are nuanced and her choice of cover versions (a firey gay interpretation of traditional song “I Don’t Need No Man’) is spot on.
ipod essential – Tired of This Life

Nada Surf
Lucky
Barsuk/Shock
3/5
Ecstatic indie rock in a neo-psychedelic vein from the terribly named Nada Surf. ‘Lucky’ is full of straightforward pop hooks and fuzzed-out positivity, and so sounds closer to Matthew Sweet or Yo La Tengo than Flaming Lips. There’s nothing wrong with the songs, but, perhaps because it’s so dated (nineties) sounding, the album is a little unsatisfying.
ipod essential – Beautiful Beat

Aradhna
Soul Music
Dawn Raid/Universal
3/5
This solid collection of classic soul covers from Dawn Raid diva Aradhna plays like a homage by today’s r’n’b stars to the music of their parents’ generation. The performances are respectful, but the production is radically updated. While it doesn’t exactly break new ground, the project should appeal to fans of old soul and contemporary r’n’b alike.
ipod essential – I Want You Back

Janet Jackson
Discipline
Island
3/5
Jackson Sister Number One plays the ‘pop chameleon’ by reinventing herself as a leather-clad dominatrix. There are a few classy moments (single ‘Feedback’, the four-four electro pop of ‘Rock With U’, and Missy Elliot guest spot ‘The 1’), but for the most part contemporary pop gloss masks pretty weak material. Could Janet be the new Timberlake?
ipod essential – Rock With U

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