A collision of post-punk, dub, and girl group pop, Anika is defined by its namesake’s voice. Anika's stiff Teutonic alto evokes not just the ultimate German ice princess Nico, but the brazen haughtiness of punks like Malaria! and Mania D. Backed by Portishead's Geoff Barrow and the rest of BEAK> -- whom she met while working as a music promoter -- she uses the near-robotic aloofness of her voice to brilliant effect on wisely chosen covers and a handful of originals.
The most refreshing part about Anika's eponymous debut album is just how unambitious it is. You'd be right to be skeptical of Portishead's Geoff Barrow linking up with another European singer with a deadpan, dramatic voice, but Anika isn't an attempt to capitalize on past glories. Instead, it's a further delving into Barrow's record-nerd fantasies after 2009's krautrock-isms with his band, Beak>.
JUANES “P.A.R.C.E.” (Universal Music Latino) In Latin America, Juanes is a superstar who has sold millions of albums and won 17 Latin Grammy awards. He shoulders the responsibility of stardom by working hard to be a good guy. Last year, he played for hundreds of thousands of people in Havana, headlining a concert calling for peace. His fifth studio album, “P.A.R.C.E.,” gets its title from “parcero,” Colombian slang for “buddy,” and it’s full of songs that are palpably sincere and high-minded.