saddest, slowest, most acoustic, if-they're-all-waltzes-so-be-it-record.
Aimee Mann was born and raised in and around the Virginia capitol of Richmond just south of the Mason-Dixon line. Her parents split when she was young and she was raised primarily by her ad exec dad. As a teen she wandered the Fan and Shockoe Slip Districts and the campus at Virginia Commonwealth University with visions of Sex Pistols and DEVO dancing in her head. She taught herself on her brother's guitar as a young schoolgirl while under house arrest for mono and later learned how to drink in The Back Room of Richmond's legendary jazz club, Bogart's. With her dad's blessings, she shipped off to Boston to pursue music at Berklee upon high school graduation.
Rumors were aswirl in the tightknit Boston music community during the summer of 1983. 'Til Tuesday had swept the WBCN Rumble, Boston's version of The Battle of the Bands but on steroids. Recording studios and record deals were sums of the booty bestowed upon the winner. Was the Rumble was fixed? Did 'BCN's program director, Oedipus, just walk 'Til Tueday into a pre-arranged record deal with Epic? It was the same rumors that swirled around every year at end of each Rumble but it was just that - rumors. The band was already holed up in The Cars' Newbury Street recording studio cutting demos and the name of the exotic creature who fronted the band, Aimee Mann, would soon be whispered in the same breath as Jules Shear, Peter Wolf and Michael Penn. There was also a local legend that anyone who won the Rumble was cursed.
Aimee was already the object of many desires years earlier as the countergirl at the original Newbury Comics' Boston location where all the local punks bought their pins and import 45s. People would flock just to bask in her aura and the aura of her co-worker as well, local deejay, Tami Heide. Mann's band then was a herky-jerky art rock project named The Young Snakes who were akin to New York's nowave and fuck art, let's dance projects ala The Bush Tetras. In 1983, she was poised to become a Top 40 - MTV darling. The local sour grapes couldn't put a damper on her trajectory. Not only could she sing but her Berklee School of Music training produced proficient, enviable bass playing skills as well.
In April of 1985, 'Til Tuesday was introduced to the rest of the world with a finely tuned image that co-starred her androgynous guitar maestro, Robert Holmes. Voices Carry would do everything that was promised peaking at #23 on the Billboard charts with an iconic video that sustained awards and heavy rotation on MTV. They burned hot, they burned fast and soon they burned out. Mann retreated. Her name would resurface for years here and there about skirmishes with her labels that were worth putting up the mattresses over but it seemed that the battles were getting more press then her actual music.
In 1995, despite carrying the weight of an unfair world on her back, she was able to still get a couple of press darling releases under her belt and everything seemed to be right with the world. That's Just What You Are was her first timeless classic in a post-'Til Tuesday world. It featured the classic octave background treatment of Squeeze's Difford and Tillbrook and a perfect combination of pop hook and street cred.
Her career then took a turn in what seemed like a Hollywood story because well, it was a Hollywood story.
She had since resettled in Los Angeles and married Sean Penn's brother and was running in the same circles as singer Fionna Apple and her boyfriend director Paul Thomas Anderson. During post production editing for Boogie Nights Anderson began crafting a screenplay based upon a handful of songs Aimmee had written. Those songs would become the basis for the Oscar nominated Magnolia and expose perhaps her finest work, the masterpiece Save Me. It took almost three years before the movie's actual release but she stayed busy making an appearance as the 9-Toed nihilist in the cult classic, The Big Lebowski . She joined Lilith Fair tour for the summer of '99 all the meanwhile launching her own label, Superego Records.
A new millenium, a new career. Magnolia finally recieved its theatrical release in 2000 and her Bachelor No. 2 or, the Last Remains of the Dodo featuring songs from film sold directly from her website eventually racked up a quarter million unit sales. The majors had passed on it for not seeing any commercial appeal.
In 2012, her Charmer video, was in some ways was more entertaining than the song itself. She was openly joking that she would prefer sending out a clone to do her dirty work versus going back on the road for another grueling tour. It was life imitating art and it was a little unnerving. Her stretch of releases following the Bachelor (which includes a Xmas record) felt a little recycled as if she settled into a cookie cutter version of herself. The Red Hot Chili Peppers have had similar stetches. It doesn't mean that it's bad it just means she wasn't openly exploring new terrain.
She seemed out of place in her role as Ted Leo's partner-in-crime as the 2013 super-duo, The Both.
The good news is..... she's back.