Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time," was a shot heard 'round the world. The debut album by Norway's Annie [Lilia Berge Strand] will sadly not have that influential scope. But including several unequivocally lauded shots heard 'round the blog community, at least, Anniemal will have its own impact, possibly making Euro electro pop socially acceptable for indie kids.

Anniemal is more purring kitten than radio airplay predator; but its 12 tracks are coy. "Chewing Gun" introduces glib Annie over a clapping double-dutch beat by British producer Richard X. "Always Too Late" has a vibrant slither like Björk's "Human Behavior" contorted through UK garridge, while "Me Plus One" is a Human League-like Richard X cut. Closing the killer openers is the throbbing "My Heartbeat," produced with Tellé recording artists Röyksopp.

Much of the album's remainder--save for Annie's 1999 "Greatest Hit," borne on a sample of Madonna's "Everybody"--is imbued with a more melancholic undertone, however, from the untimely death of Annie's lover, then 23-year-old Tellé contributor Tore "Erot" Kroknes ("Greatest Hit" producer). This is aided by Annie's breathy yet burdened vocal likeness to glossy Saint Etienne's Sarah Cracknell. But whether elegiac or ebullient, this Norwegian pop leaves even hipsters exclaiming, "Hit me baby one more time." TONY WARE


Cemetery Shoes

(Bongo Beat Records)

***1/2 stars
There are artists with composition styles so complimentary that one can't help but wonder what might happen if they met. (What would transpire if Neko Case and Patsy Cline waited tables at the same truck-stop diner one summer?) In the case of country-rock doom purveyor Johnny Dowd, I'd love to know what he and Tom Waits would do after attending the funeral of, say, Captain Beefheart. My best guess is that they'd head to a roadside cafe where Waits could get a strong cup of coffee, Dowd could order a stiff shot of bourbon and they'd wile away the hours discussing Southern gothic literature, the fragility and horror of everyday life, and the importance of seeking comfort in gallows humor. Waits would reminisce about his experiences working with filmmaker Jim Jarmusch; Dowd would talk about his recent appearance in the Southern culture documentary Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus. I also think Waits would admire the bleakness and dark wit of Dowd's newest release, a morbid collection of grim character sketches and cautionary tales about cold-hearted women, violent, vagrant family members, and the reassuring fact that despite the inevitable evils of the world, the sun shines equally on all of us. HANNAH LEVIN

Johnny Dowd performs Wed Dec 8 at the Tractor.

**** pumpkin pie *** mulled wine ** mashed potatoes * Pepto-Bismol