SATURDAY, JULY 1, 8 pm
with special guest Jonathan Coulton
Oscar-nominated, Grammy Award-winning Aimee Mann has just released her first album in five years, Mental Illness. The record follows 2012’s Charmer, which Rolling Stone proclaimed “shows off the more pop-oriented side to her usual acoustic tendencies.” With this follow-up, she returns to a more musically soft-spoken but still lyrically barbed approach, as heard in the album’s lead single, “Goose Snow Cone.”
Mental Illness shows off Mann’s rich, incisive and wry melancholia in an almost all-acoustic format, with a “finger-picky” style inspired by some of her favorite ‘60s and ‘70s folk-rock records, augmented by haunting strings arranged by her longtime producer, Paul Bryan. Additional players include Jonathan Coulton (see below) on acoustic guitar and backing vocals who will be accompanying her in this show.
Mann remains a student of human behavior, drawing not just on her own experiences to form the characters in the songs but tales told by friends. “I assume the brief on me is that people think that I write these really depressing songs,” Mann says. “I don’t know—people may have a different viewpoint—but that’s my own interpretation of the cliché about me. So if they thought that my songs were very down-tempo, very depressing, very sad, and very acoustic, I thought I’d just give myself permission to write the saddest, slowest, most acoustic, if-they’re-all-waltzes-so-be-it record I could…I mean, calling it Mental Illness makes me laugh, because it is true, but it’s so blunt that it’s funny.”
After several albums with Til Tuesday, Mann began her solo career in 1993 with the album Whatever and made a name for herself through her independent success and the founding of her record label, SuperEgo Records. In addition to her solo albums, she has appeared on many film soundtracks, most notably the song score for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, with “Save Me” landing her Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Song.
In 2014, Mann joined up with Ted Leo for a more rock-oriented duo project, releasing a self-titled album under the name The Both. Other extracurricular activities since Charmer ranged from playing herself on the hit TV series Portlandia to performing for President Obama and the First Lady at the White House. Named one of The Huffington Post’s “13 Funny Musicians You Should Be Following On Twitter,” Mann has gained a diehard social media following for her quick wit and stinging observation.
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JONATHAN COULTON is a geek rock / folk rock musician active since 2003 from Brooklyn, known for his songs about geek culture. He is best known for such compositions as “Still Alive” and “Code Monkey”, as well as his cover of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”. He is the Contributing Troubadour for Popular Science magazine and the musical director for John Hodgman’s Little Gray Book Lectures.
Every week for a year Coulton released a new song for free on his website as part of his Thing a Week podcast, on topics as diverse as vengeful nerds, self-loathing giant squid, partially-imagined historical figures, and devotees of a certain Swedish prefab furniture store. The Thing a Week project is now complete, and all songs can be streamed from his official website. Many of the songs on the site can be downloaded for free. The song “Code Monkey” became the theme song to the G4 television show Code Monkeys.
Coulton’s song “Still Alive” has been featured in Valve Software’s game Portal (and has become a hit among the gamers who finished the game) . He also made a recording of this song called the “J.C. Mix” which is exactly the same except he is singing rather than Ellen McLain as GLaDOS. “Still Alive” went on to be featured in the game Rock Band, as well as Skullcrusher Mountain and Re: Your Brains.