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Picks and Pans Main: Music

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Justin Bieber

My World 2.0 |


Sixteen-year-old heartthrob Justin Bieber proves worthy of all the screaming and swooning on this sequel to last November’s My World. Indeed, with his yummy, R&B-flavored pop, the Canadian cutie emerges as the 2010 version of such past teen idols as Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown and Usher (who signed Bieber to his label and is an executive producer here). But you don’t need to be a locker-poster-hanging junior-high girl to fall for his charms, which include a sweet, soulful voice that at times brings to mind a young Michael Jackson.

DOWNLOAD THIS: “Baby,” the retro-meets-electro hit with Ludacris

Mindy McCready

I’m Still Here |


Recently on Celebrity Rehab, Mindy McCready has had enough troubles to fill a few country albums. She addresses her problems on the moving title track of her first disc in eight years. Even better, though, is when she looks hard at her relationship demons on “Wrong Again.”


Still Standing |


It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since Monica released her debut, Miss Thang, when she was a junior miss at just 14. While she is no longer the multiplatinum force she was in the ’90s, she remains on solid musical ground on Still Standing. Although the disc (which takes its title from her BET reality show) doesn’t break any new R&B territory, it’s a consistently rewarding set that relies on Monica’s strong delivery and some dependable writers and producers, from Ne-Yo to Stargate. Frequent collaborator Missy Elliott provides two highlights: the old-school ballad “Everything to Me” and the retro-’80s jam “If You Were My Man,” which sample Deniece Williams and Evelyn “Champagne” King, respectively.

The Whigs

In the Dark |



On 2008’s Mission Control, the Whigs displayed shades of the late, great Replacements. On their third album, this Athens, Ga., trio continue to do Paul Westerberg and company proud with garage rock that’s heavy on hooks, riffs and swagger. They’ve got it all in full effect on “I Don’t Even Care About the One I Love,” this disc’s stomping standout on which singer-guitarist Parker Gispert declares that “there’s a black heart inside of me.” Other highlights include the punk-spiked single “Kill Me Carolyne” and the ’60s-pop-flavored title cut, which asks, “How am I gonna see where you’re coming from if you keep keeping me in the dark?”

She & Him

Volume Two |


On this follow-up to 2008’s Volume One, (500) Days of Summer actress Zooey Deschanel and alt-folkie M. Ward make sun-kissed ’60s pop that will have you blissing out. These ditties put the spotlight on Deschanel and her dreamy delivery, with Ward content to play second fiddle to his leading lady.

DOWNLOAD THIS: “Over It Over Again,” a charming, cooing kiss-off

Reni Lane

Ready |


She may be signed to Linda Perry’s label, but Reni Lane isn’t another Pink. With her atmospheric alt-pop, perfect to set the scene on Gossip Girl, she’s more like Dido’s younger, zippier sister. But her voice, prone to drone, can be a bit colorless.

DOWNLOAD THIS: “Never Be Another You,” a Cure-esque jangle