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.

Photos: Aimee Mann @ Sonic Boom – May 9, 2008
MP3: Aimee Mann – “Thirty One Today”
Video: Aimee Mann – “Thirty One Today”
MySpace: Aimee Mann

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.

Exclaim! discusses Couples with Long Blonde Kate Jackson. They’re at Lee’s Palace on May 22.

The Nicole Atkins feature in this month’s Spin is now available to read online via their digital issue reader thingie.

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.

Drowned In Sound talks to Mission Of Burma’s Roger Miller.

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.

Today’s darlings of the internet – No Age – will be at the Horseshoe on July 16 in support of their new album Nouns. MTV and Exclaim have features on the Los Angeles duo.

MP3: No Age – “Neck Escaper”
MP3: No Age – “Eraser”

All done with opening for others, Bon Iver will be headlining at Lee’s Palace on July 22 with the very worthy Bowerbirds, who were recently featured in a Take Away Show, as support.

If that bill’s not to your taste, perhaps the Atlas Sound/El Guincho at the Mod Club the same evening would be more up your alley.

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.

MP3: Tilly & The Wall – “Cacaphony”

Stereolab will take their latest Chemical Chords, out August 19, on the road this Fall and be in Toronto at the Phoenix on October 8. Monade, Laetitia Sadier’s side project, will open.

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.

By : Frank Yang at 8:25 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Chris says:

    I was honestly surprised with how much I enjoyed the new album…listening to how it wades through a bit of lighthearted electronic here and there reminds me of how I tend to focus on Mann as a bit of a one-trick pony (post Magnolia).

  2. Steve says:

    Time Out will basically tell you everything that’s going on in London, make sure you know how to bus home, shows tend to go late, past tube hours

  3. claire says:

    happy birthday!

  4. MB77 says:

    Time out’s good if you’re a fifty year old woman who wants to see Celine Dion or Moby.

  5. Torr says:

    frank, have you heard what the former rhythm section from Ambulance are up to? The bassist is fronting The Red Romance, and their demo is actually better than the Ambulance album ever was.

  6. Bruce Wrighte says:

    I tend to agree with Steve’s Time Out comment, it’s kind of pedestrian. As unlikely as it may seem, NME’s listings are pretty thorough and up to date, as it’s a weekly, and more likely to suit your interests. There was also a free digest-sized magazine called The Fly that had a lot of good listings, reviews, etc., available mostly at the front of record shops. On that note, Virgin Megastore (Oxford Circus) is a safe bet for selection and deals.

    Definitely hit Camden market, great shops and people-watching, and Portobello Road if you have time. For food, there’s a really good Japanese noodle/fusion place called Wagamama that’s reasonable (for London) and social (think Salad King with less noise). Lots of locations around London – check for locations and worthwhile short-term discount coupons.

    Oh, and the Temple Bar area in Dublin is a must while you’re there.

    Have a great time!

  7. Jack DeYoung says:

    I heard Bon Iver is opening for Wilco soon. Great blog, man.

  8. Jen says:

    Check the tour dates for The Hold Steady and Lucero — who are both currently in the UK and are supposedly playing as a double bill somewhere. They drink well together.

    Also been meaning to tell you to promote Drug Rug who are opening for the Long Blondes later this month. My favorite surprise discovery at SXSW this year – and they weren’t even on the official schedule. Sold out the Bowery Ballroom for CMJ I think — so somebody else likes them too.

  9. t.j.roe says:

    I check your blog all the time, and i turned 28 on sunday! Keep up the good work.

  10. J Mascarenhas says:

    Have a pint at the Windsor Castle in Holland Park (btn Notting Hill and Kennsington High Street). The Portobello Road in Notting hill is pretty crazy on Saturdays. Also, make sure to go to Honest John’s records at the end of the Portobello Rd…one of the best vinyl stores around! Have fun…