While Aimee Mann achieved great commercial success in the 1980s with new wavers ‘Til Tuesday and their moving anthem “Voices Carry,” she has continually shown over the years that success at that high of a level can be just a jumping off point and not a plateaued destination. With a variety of impressive solo albums dating back to the early ’90s, many of which she has released independently, it’s clear to see that Aimee’s unique mix of melodic melancholy and clever songwriting is still producing album after album of talented musicianship and witty, biting lyrics. On the heels of her next solo album Charmer (out September 18 on SuperEgo Records), Aimee has compiled a great 5-song sampler that includes her new title track single “Charmer” and four other great cuts from her last few solo releases.
The bouncy, synth-driven groove of “Charmer” shows a musically playful side of Aimee that harkens back to the late ’70s vibe surrounding punk and new wave’s beginnings. For me, there’s always been something cool about her voice against a distorted electric guitar, so I’m loving this track and really looking forward to the rest of Charmer. “Little Tornado” is a quiet acoustic track from her last solo album, 2008’s @#%&*! Smilers, and it’s a cool representation of the beautifully sad (but still somehow tinged with a certain measure of hope) songwriting that she’s capable of creating. “That’s How I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart” captures the same mournful spirit over a bed of piano and strings and comes from Aimee’s lush, relational concept album, The Forgotten Arm. “It’s Not” is a deceptive little number that vacillates between an intimate singer/songwriter verse and a rich orchestral chorus. “You Do” is from Aimee’s first independent solo release and it’s a nice little musical time capsule of that period of her career and creative development.
Another project Aimee is involved in that you should keep your eyes and ears out for is the film Pleased to Meet Me. Based on Jon Langford’s classifieds-born, one-day band recording session for This American Life (Episode #223: Classifieds), this super cool film has Aimee trading lines alongside other musical heavyweights like John Doe of punk legends X, Joe Henry, Karin Bergquist of Over The Rhine and famed folk troubadour Loudon Wainwright III. No stranger to the screen, Aimee can also be seen in The Big Lebowski and select episodes of Portlandia, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The West Wing. Pleased to Meet Me is still currently in the production/shooting stages, but it’s shaping up to be a really interesting film.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t being Romeo in black jeans looking for someone to dance with, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack.