Monday, August 11, 2008


Song: Freeway
Artist: Aimee Mann
Album: @#%&*! Smilers

While cultural osmosis lent its hand for me knowing “Voices Carry,” the biggest hit from ‘Til Tuesday by heart, to know the solo work of member Aimee Mann you have to work a bit harder. And while I knew the name and the woman… it wasn’t until her songs created the plot and soundtrack for Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterwork “Magnolia” did I really understand the true brilliance of this amazing songwriter.

The delightfully titled “@#%&*! Smilers” marks Mann’s 6th solo release and her latest since ‘05’s story/concept record “The Forgotten Arm.” I’ve been living with the record for a couple weeks now and I’ll come clean… it just doesn’t grab me the way her songs from the “Magnolia” soundtrack and the follow up album “Bachelor No. 2” did. But make no mistake… there isn’t such a thing as a BAD Aimee Mann record. Like Lucinda Williams, Aimee Mann has a couple incredibly good records in between draw-droppingly brilliant ones. As a songwriter, Mann has uncanny abilities in getting clever emotionally true lyrics to ride her bouncy melodies… which are evident once again in lead single/track “Freeway” from her latest. I really dig this song, and love the new wave synths that are added to Mann’s mainly acoustic vibe.

If you’re not familiar with Mann’s work I might suggest that you start with “Bachelor No. 2” or 1995’s “I’m With Stupid.” Two killer records. While initially she may come across as a run-of-the-mill singer-songwriter, her songs get under your skin… and at least for me new layers and meanings come clear sometimes years after I first get to know a song of hers. It’s not often that such human truth can manifest itself in something so catchy.



Save Me

An all-time favorite song with a great video

That’s Just What You Are (Live on the Jon Stewart Show)

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