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When Good Things Happen to Bad Pianos

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Album Review

2006's Songs from the Coalmine Canary was an abrupt departure from the dub-inflected dance-rock eclecticism of Little Annie's previous albums, a disc's worth of dramatic cabaret-style torch songs in the manner of a downtown hipster Edith Piaf produced by scene maven Anthony Hegarty. The follow-up, When Good Things Happen to Bad Pianos, takes the idea one step further: a collaboration between Little Annie and pianist Paul Wallfisch on nine vintage cover songs (plus one brief holiday-themed original at the end), this is torch singing in extremis. Little Annie's voice, never an instrument of beauty, sounds positively ravaged at times, recalling Broken English era Marianne Faithfull and Billie Holiday towards the end of her life. But there's an elegance and grace to her delivery, both on traditional examples of the form like "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)" and Charles Aznavour's "Yesterday When I Was Young," and unexpected recastings like Tina Turner's "Private Dancer," which she turns into a wounded but proud meditation, and U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," which becomes almost unbearably tragic, sounding more like vintage Jacques Brel than the one Brel cover, "If You Go Away," does. Less of a shock than Songs from the Coalmine Canary, which was the sort of late-career reinvention that not many artists get to pull off, When Good Things Happen to Bad Pianos is an entirely worthy follow-up.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

About the only thing that stays unchanged for New Yorker Annie Bandez as she bounces between mediums with a restless creative drive is the name Annie. Also known as Annie Anxiety and most recently as Little Annie, Bandez is a painter, writer, dancer, spoken word artist, actor, and musician whose work embraces the avant-garde, hip-hop, rap, punk, electronica, reggae, and rock realms with uncanny ease and discernment. By the age of 16 she was fronting a ragged punk group in New York City called Annie...
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When Good Things Happen to Bad Pianos, Little Annie
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