DANI SICILIANO

Likes...

(Studio !K7)

Dani Siciliano reconciles the intent of jazz standards with the ephemera of glitch--gingerly, as both are slippery. A torchy chanteuse in the realest sense, Siciliano pins Likes... together with rhythms straight from the curio shoppe (percussion comes from cigarette lighters, accordions, typewriters, clarinets--handclaps!) and plants fists in lots of ground. Her jumanji includes, but is not limited to: subtle tango (the Siciliano/Matthew Herbert in-the-round "All the Above"), exotica/lounge (a gamey cover of Nirvana's "Come as You Are" is re-imagined as tiki fave or safari anthem), crackled pop ("Walk the Line"), smoky torch w/orchestra pit. (Say, is that an oboe on "Remember to Forget?") "Canes and Trains" and "One String" are rhythmic petit fours, elegant and sweet as candy, while "Extra Ordinary" burns slow to a pique, ending in Siciliano's chorus pleas of "Why won't I change/Is this ordinary?" Likes... is an album about subtle fantasy, revision, and reinvention like a Cindy Sherman facial: the songs share a palette, but each has its own path, and your first impression is hardly the right one. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

VAN HUNT

Van Hunt

(Capitol Records)

Lovers of the smooth R&B should definitely not pass up the debut CD from Van Hunt; he's the real deal. Not for club bangin' or bumping in the whip, Hunt is all about "midnight soul," evoking the vocal timbres of Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye, sweetly singing the praises and foibles of love. Obviously influenced by the soul masters, Hunt has nevertheless developed his own style, adding thoroughly modern production to the mix, and heavy-duty lyricism. Every cut on this disc hits the mark, making it impossible to immediately choose a favorite--but if you download a taste, choose "Down Here in Hell (With You)," "Dust," and the indie-funkified "Hold My Hand." All I know is that if Norah Jones can become famous, you'll crap your pants over Van Hunt. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY

DAMAGEPLAN

New Found Power

(Elektra Records) **

Pantera once described themselves as "the Rolling Stones of heavy metal," a vision ruined by their unexpected breakup last year. Brothers Vinnie Paul (drums) and Dimebag Darrell (guitar) had only once choice--find another snarling, baldheaded singer and keep at it. The title of Damageplan's debut album, New Found Power, must seem like a joke to everyone involved; the formula is stunningly familiar: speed, crunch, groove, doom. But something like 5 million kids will turn 14 this year, and at least two-thirds of them will need to tell their parents to "fuck off." If Damageplan offers a way to do that, they've done more for those kids than any guidance counselor or health teacher ever did. ETHAN SWAN

**** Black Eye

*** Bloody Nose

** Stubbed Toe

* Hangnail