Why?, Tobacco, Anni Rossi Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., Sept. 26, 9 p.m. 2008

With a delivery that makes him sound like he’s just been roused from a deep sleep and a voice that could be favorably compared to one of the Johns from They Might Be Giants—or unfavorably to the dude from the Bloodhound Gang—WHY? main man Yoni Wolf doesn’t have many natural gifts as an MC. That seems to be OK by him, though: feeling awkward is one of his favorite subjects, along with getting bummed out and thinking too hard about stuff. His shtick—he’s basically a geekier version of Slug from Atmosphere—can get a little tiresome in large doses, but on the latest Why? album, Alopecia (Anticon), he and his bandmates keep it lively on the musical front, augmenting the programmed beats with drums, guitar, bass, and keys, plus oddball samples and the occasional found sound. —Miles Raymer

Though I had to overcome an instant aversion to her vocal style—her wild leaps, swoops, and flutters make Ani DiFranco sound like a stuffy conservatory student—I’ve really warmed up to Afton (4AD), the forthcoming EP by 22-year-old violist ANNI ROSSI. An LA native now living in Chicago, Rossi is an exceptionally resourceful player, funneling bits of country, soul, and folk into catchy, idiosyncratic art-pop ditties and always finding just the right configuration of plucks, scrapes, and bottom-heavy bow drags to complement their zigzagging melodies. Her singing sounds terrific when she dials down the quirkiness, which is thankfully the direction I’ve heard she’ll be going on her debut full-length, recorded with Steve Albini and due in 2009. On the EP she’s accompanied by drums, organ, and bass clarinet, but I have no problem imagining her viola and voice getting the job done alone—in fact, she’s often played solo on the road, and she’ll do so here. —Peter Margasak

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