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In Rotation: Anika 'Anika'

March 20, 2011 |  6:35 am

Anika A series in Sunday Calendar about what we're listening to right now...

As a singer, Anika can be a little jarring. Low, flat and close to the groove, Anika's debut for Stones Throw Records is all about the mood. Working with Geoff Barrow of Portishead fame — a band that knows a thing or two about exploring the shadows between rock and hip-hop — this is a collection of striking songs, most of them covers and all of them seemingly built for late-night contemplation.

Bob Dylan's “Masters of War” is twisted into downbeat reggae, a piece of electronic atmosphere that's part dub and part Clash. The songs of Anika (real name: Annika Henderson) aren't rough as much as they are in the moment. “No One's There,” for instance, is an activist's call to arms, with wobbly electronics dissolving into dusty rhythms and paranoid guitars. Her take on the Pretenders' “I Go to Sleep” may have a relaxed piano at its core, but by the time the cymbals perk up, Anika's patiently determined delivery starts to sound more like a threat. It's still a love song, but one for a time of panic.

—Todd Martens

Stones Throw Records