Monday, May 12th, 2008
Thirty One Today
Photo by Frank Yang
Actually, the title of this post isn’t quite accurate. I turned 33 yesterday. But it was still nice of Aimee Mann to stop by on Friday evening to say hello. Okay, it wasn’t specifically a birthday greeting, but her in-store in the basement of Sonic Boom was still something of an occasion if for no other reason than it’s not often you get a show as intimate as that with an artist of her stature.
I was a big fan in the days of her early solo records – the Roger McGuinn-aided classic pop of Whatever and Bernard Butler-gilded alt.rock of I’m With Stupid were staples of my musical diet through the late ’90s but after her turn of the century triumphs with Magnolia and Bachelor No 2. The follow-up Lost In Space felt tepid and a bit creatively stagnant however, and with a three-year gap between that and The Forgotten Arm my attention had wandered though I was pleased to see that the latter recaptured a bit of the energy that Space was sorely lacking.
Which brings us to her newest effort, @#%&! Smilers, to be released June 3. It was from this record that Mann drew exclusively for this short (half-hour) promo gig with herself on acoustic guitar and accompanied by a bassist and keyboardist. Assuming that the presentation of the recorded versions will differ significantly from this configuration, it was tough to judge the quality of the material based on this performance. Mann has always had an innate pop sense but her recent works have been less immediate and requiring more listens to fully appreciate. But that said, based on first impressions the new stuff sounds quite good and I look forward to hearing the album in whole.
Mann will be back in town for a proper date later this Summer at the Kool Haus on August 28. She also gives Newsweek some background behind the creation of the new record.
Orgeon Live and The Age interview Death Cab For Cutie guitarist Chris Walla while American Songwriter talks creative process with both Walla and Ben Gibbard. Narrow Stairs is out tomorrow and they play Olympic Island on June 7.
WOXY has posted the fruits of their Lounge Act labours with Okkervil River, including a new song that will likely make an appearance on their Stage Names companion disc which should be out later this year.
Have you been wondering what happened to Ambulance LTD? So has the The Harvard Crimson so they catch up with sole remaining original member Marcus Congleton at a gig and find out how their label going bankrupt has essentially screwed them for the foreseeable future. Brooklyn Rail also checks in with Congleton, gets the same story. Demos of new material are available on their MySpace, and that’s probably the most we’ll be getting out of them anytime soon.
A bunch of show announcements to help you plan your Summer. Thanks to Graham for pointing out that Ted Leo will be in town for a show at the Mod Club for the “Converse 100th Anniversary Party” on June 12, an early show with tickets $15 at the door. And then the next day, he’s at Dundas Square for a free 6PM show, this one surely a NXNE event.
Tilly & The Wall has given up on keeping their new album, due June 17, nameless and will now consent to call it O. They will be in town to promote with a show at the Mod Club on August 2.
Okay, so as I mentioned many moons ago I’m heading out vacation this week first for a few days in Dublin and then hopping over to London for another while – ten days total. I’ve tried to do some research as to things to do but have been fairly busy and besides a laundry list of the more obvious touristy things, any recommendations in addition to what was rattled off in January? I’m told that getting a copy of Time Out is the place to start? I’ve got no particular agenda – just want to look around, hang out, start a band, become NME flavour of the week and fall out of favour. I figure I can accomplish all that in a week.