Archives for posts with tag: Aimee Mann

​Aimee Mann is one of my all time favorite singer songwriters. According to my taste and experience, she’s never done any bad music. I didn’t discover her until her solo career, but enjoy her ‘Til Tuesday days too. The combination of her voice, lyrics, and melodies has run through my mind like a stream moving as fast as she can produce albums. 

Some music inspires my fiction way more than the rest. Aimee Mann’s has been known to help me generate plot almost faster than I can keep up with it. Some of the best scenes I’ve ever written are connected to her work on the Magnolia Soundtrack and most of all, Bachelor No. 2, or the Last Remains of the Dodo. The latter is my favorite of her albums, and Mental Illness reminds me of it quite a bit. Drenched in strings that are the perfect companions to guitar and piano, Mental Illness is lavishly melodic. She also displays her wonderful ability with often subtle vocal acrobatics. 

Mental Illness strikes me as Dodo’s charming older sister. Containing several waltzes and her usual complex lyrics, this album is amazing and quickly became the kind of thing I have to keep listening to at odd moments. Especially when the unusual, catchy, and beautiful Goose Snow Cone pops into my head. I looked up what it’s about. Turns out Goose is a cat she knows, who also stars in the sweet video. This one is going to keep me listening, as I wait for whatever comes next from Aimee Mann.

I don’t know how I didn’t know until recently that one of my favorite singer/songwriters has a new band. Aimee Mann has teamed up with Ted Leo to form The Both.

While I enjoy all of her music, I really love when Aimee Mann sings with more simple piano or acoustic guitar accompaniment. That would explain why my favorite of her albums, Bachelor No. 2, or the Last Remains of the Dodo, goes against the general fan favorites list grain. That one is followed closely by I’m With Stupid. All of her albums make me play them a lot initially, but these two got the incessant treatment.

The Both is somewhere in between. Driven by electric guitars, it’s peppier overall than her usual fare, still with the beautifully intelligent lyrics I’ve come to expect. The addition of another voice throughout makes it a bit of a different listening experience. Their voices blend nicely, as do their songwriting
styles.

The Both by The Both is a very enjoyable album, with one track that slid right into my incessant playing place. Hummingbird is more the Aimee Mann kind of song that I could listen to all day. Quieter, thoughtful, and thought provoking, it’s very beautiful. I hope for more like that in time, and for now I’m enjoying The Both by The Both very much.

The Both “Hummingbird” — Toad’s Place

2012 is a rare year for music lovers who stick with favorite artists through their entire careers. It’s starting to seem as if a large number of my favorite voices are raining from the sky. Unfortunately, this much music rain comes with sticker shock, though both MP3 downloads and physical CDs are less expensive now overall than I can ever remember them being.

I’ve already covered Smashing Pumpkins, Regina Spektor, and Fiona Apple. The current wave came all on top of each other as well. To continue the rain thing…it’s pouring talent and beauty and nostalgic rediscovery this fall.

Aimee Mann never disappoints me. Sometimes I like one album less than another, but I love them all. From her early seriously, gloriously alternative singer songwriter gem I’m With Stupid to the more genteel Bachelor No. 2 or The Last Remains of the Dodo to her new album Charmer, she uses her unique vocal talent as another instrument, accompanied by guitar, piano, and a variety of other instruments to create songs that want to be set on repeat. Living a Lie is my can’t stop listening track on Charmer.

Beth Orton is another unique voice. It seems like forever since she released a new album, but Sugaring Season is worth the wait.  I first heard her on her hit Central Reservation. Acoustic guitar backed Devil Song was one of my favorite tracks there, haunting and intense. She later did some duets with Terry Callier that were a perfect blending of voices. Now she has Sugaring Season, with an often softer, meditative, and poetic sound. In fact one track, Poison Tree, is actually a William Blake poem she arranged and added words to. It’s one of my favorites, along with the dreamy, waltzy See Through Blue.

Ben Folds Five was a favorite band for a long time, until they disbanded and left me wishing for more. I guess wishes really are sometimes horses, because once again this beggar might ride the swoops and soaring sound waves generated by BFF’s standout blend of rollicking piano driven rock music and storytelling lyrics. Frontman Ben Folds (I knew nothing about the band when they first exploded into my music loving conciousness with Brick, and thought the name had something to do with poker!) is in fine form, and the emphasis on sonically beautiful harmonizing is a new and welcome addition to an already ridiculously catchy style. Blue Sky, Thank You For Breaking My Heart, and Away When You Were Here are my favorite tracks on The Sound of the Life of the Mind. Here’s hoping this is merely the beginning of the second life of Ben Folds Five.