with Jonathan Coulton
May 3rd, 2017
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ABOUT AIMEE MANN
Aimee Mann’s Mental Illness, her first album in five years, will be released on March 31 via her own SuperEgo Records. 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,” which debuts today. Listen/share the track here: aimeemann.com.
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 on acoustic guitar and backing vocals, Jay Bellerose on drums, Jamie Edwards on piano, John Roderick as a co-writer and Ted Leo (who recently joined her in a joint side project, The Both) as a background singer.
On this eleven-track album, the Oscar-nominated, Grammy-winning singer 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.”
In support of the release, Mann confirms a headlining North American tour this spring, with a stop in St. Paul, MN at the Fitzgerald Theater on May 3rd.
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.
ABOUT JONATHAN COULTON
In 2005 Jonathan Coulton dropped out of a perfectly good software career to write music on the internet. He embarked upon a bold experiment called Thing a Week, in which he home-recorded and released a new song every week for an entire year, giving them all away for free. Even he thought he was crazy. But while a struggling music industry fell to pieces over filesharing and shifting business models, Jonathan Coulton quietly and independently amassed a small army of techies, nerds, and dedicated superfans who buy his music even though they don’t have to.
Coulton speaks to the outcast in all of us, in the voices of characters we know from our own sad little lives: the awkward, lovelorn mad scientist from “Skullcrusher Mountain,” the powerless wage slave from “Code Monkey,” and the annoying former coworker turned zombie from the anthemic ode to office doublespeak, “Re: Your Brains.” His songs resonate because he transcends what might otherwise be a gimmicky genre of songwriting – behind every misunderstood monster is a human frailty that we recognize all too well.
Luckily for his patient and supportive family, his internet superstar status has led to much real world success. He tours extensively in the US, Canada, the UK, and Europe. His song “Code Monkey” was used as the theme for the G4 animated series “Code Monkeys,” and in 2007 he was tapped to write “Still Alive,” the closing song to the award-winning game Portal. That song won the Game Audio Network Guild’s “Best Original Vocal Pop Song” award in 2008, and has been called the greatest video game ending song of all time. If you yourself can’t sing it all the way through, chances are your children can. In 2011 he was asked back to write “Want You Gone,” the closing song for Portal’s long-awaited and critically acclaimed sequel.
Artificial Heart is Coulton’s first album of new material since Thing a Week, and it features an actual kickass band made up of actual kickass musicians, the delicious high production values of a real recording studio, and the talents of guest vocalists and actual famous people Suzanne Vega, John Roderick of The Long Winters, and Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara. It springs from a brief run opening for They Might Be Giants that ended with member John Flansburgh offering to produce Coulton’s next record – a collaboration that fans of both acts have been waiting for their entire lives, whether they know it or not.