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Issue: March 2009

Viola Triumphant

Rockwell (4AD)
Anni Rossi

Chicago-based Anni Rossi isn't your average everyday songwriter. She blends a number of influences musical, vocal and otherwise into a quirky brand of folk/pop/quirk-rock/insert-non-existent-musical-genre-here.

This is like Bjork on speed, yet she has a similar background to Louisville's own Ben Sollee she is a classically trained multi-instrumentalist who has decided to use her talents on a solo career rather than join an ensemble.

She recorded Rockwell in Chi-town with Steve Albini at the helm, so the production here is an easy thumbs up (even if most of it was recorded, um, in a single day). Rossi's music is a pulsing, minimalist soup of strings and keys, with drums, percussion and a few wind instruments filling in the blanks. Viola is the instrument that pervades here, however.

The West Coast" is one of the quirkier arrangements on the album. She is from California, and this tune is about embarking "on a road trip that turns into going home." There are moments when you think this could have been a reflective pop song, but the beehive buzz of strings that ultimately drive it, along with the tapping percussion, turn it into an ever-growing exercise in frenetic speed-folk.

Most of these songs are similarly quirky and surprisingly brief Rossi doesn't dwell. She also deftly and perplexingly tosses in a surprisingly faithful (yet somehow completely different) cover of Ace of Base's "Living in Danger." If this girl was a baseball player, I'm guessing she would have one mean-ass curveball in her arsenal.

Anyway, if quirky pop is your thing, this is one you might want to check out.

March 3 at the Green Building. Check out www.myspace.com/annirossi for more.

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