Sunday, June 08, 2008

"@#%&! Smilers"! Aimee Mann is Back With a New Album

Indie singer-songwriter Aimee Mann is out with "@#%&! Smilers," her first album in three years, and though I haven't heard much of it yet it's been getting good reviews. Billboard, for one, praises the CD (which came out on June 3rd) as "her most compelling album to date" (though it misspells her name "Amy").

The title is a tongue-in-cheek swipe at people who encourage others to put on a happy face, and fits in with Mann's slightly jaded view of life, love, and the music business. Of course, she's perfectly justified in the latter: while some artists can point to being dropped by their labels or had an album held up in limbo, Mann has been through numerous nightmares with labels and record execs. Happily, she finally started up her own record label, SuperEgo Records, a number of years ago, and has control over her work.

Starting her own label is just one of the do-it-yourself actions Mann has taken; she also began using email to keep in touch with fans earlier than other artists, and has had several different podcast series devoted to her musical projects.

From what I've heard of "@#%&! Smilers," Aimee Mann is still in good form as a songwriter, combining wry lyrics with the kind of catchy pop-rock melodies that attracted attention when she was with Til Tuesday, singing the '80s megahit "Voices Carry." A Billboard article notes that Mann herself admits that the new CD is "one of her most 'smiley' to date."

But apparently there's no need for fans to worry that Aimee Mann is going soft on us (after all, she has even given in to one of the most time-honored music biz traditions and made a Christmas album), but the new CD does have some songs with bite, like "Thirty One Today."

I can't wait to hear the rest of the album.

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