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Just Announced: Aimee Mann to celebrate new record Mental Illness at Keswick Theatre in April

Aimee Mann | courtesy of the artist
Aimee Mann | courtesy of the artist

Singer/songwriter Aimee Mann announced a full US tour in support of new first record in five years Mental Illness, making a stop at Glenside’s Keswick Theatre on April 21st. Mann began her career as the bassist for new wave band ‘Til Tuesday in the 1980s, before going solo to create some wonderfully intimate folk-influenced records — many of which have been in heavy rotation at XPN over the years. More recently, she collaborated with indie rocker Ted Leo in The Both.

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Just Announced: Aimee Mann brings new Mental Illness LP to The Keswick

Aimee Mann and Ted Leo
Aimee Mann | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | koalafoto.com

With five years separating us from her last effort, the announcement of a new record from Aimee Mann and an accompanying national tour is welcome news. Mental Illness, the singer-songwriter’s ninth studio LP, is due out March 31st on her own SuperEgo Records label. A month-long tour follows, with an April 21st date set for the Keswick Theatre.

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Neko Case, Aimee Mann and Julian Casablancas cover some classics for HBO’s Vinyl

Neko Case | Photo by Dennis Kleiman | Courtesy of Anti- Records
Neko Case | Photo by Dennis Kleiman | Courtesy of Anti- Records

Neko Case, Aimee Mann, Julian Casbalancas have all contributed some awesome covers of classics for HBO’s Vinyl. Despite the show not getting rave reviews, Rotten Tomatoes’ “critics consensus” sums it up: “Vinyl doesn’t always keep the beat, dramatically speaking, but overall, it capably honors the rock pioneers of the ’70s with absorbing stories, a spot-on soundtrack, and rich period detail.” Continue reading →

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Not Your Parents’ Christmas Show: Aimee Mann and Ted Leo bring tongue-in-cheek cheer to Union Transfer

Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Christmas Show | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller | koalafoto.com
Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Christmas Show | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller | koalafoto.com

Call me a grinch, but I was so ready to hate this show. Whatever, don’t judge me. Christmas crap just isn’t my thing, and despite all the talent due to be onstage Friday night at Union Transfer for The Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Christmas Show, when I found out from the two guys standing next to me (who by the way had come from New York to be there, having just seen the same show at The Town Hall the night prior) that this was gonna be upwards of 80% Christmas-themed-and-related music – christ, I was really starting to question my own judgment in deciding I wanted to cover this.

I mean this is what happens when your childhood idol writes “Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time” and it gets forcibly funneled and shoe-horned into your consciousness year over year at every store you walk into from Halloween to Martin Luther King Day. Yeah, I am mad, bro.

What the hell though – two songs into Mann’s and Leo’s set, I realized I was actually enjoying it. Continue reading →

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Non-COMM Recap: The Both harmonized and cracked jokes for the afternoon crowd

The Both | Photo by Cameron Pollack
The Both | Photo by Cameron Pollack

Making their second stop in Philadelphia in two weeks, The Both rocked the second half of NonComm’s first Free at Noon doubleheader alongside Jessica Lea Mayfield. Every member of the audience was pleased as Aimee Mann and Ted Leo switched off lead vocal duties throughout the set, and as they cracked a good many jokes between tunes. The set featured various Ted Leo guitar solo’s, and was capped off with their track Milwaukee, having been introduced by calling Philadelphia “…the Milwaukee of New York City… that being cooler and a little bit cheaper.”

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A casual night of rock and conversation as Ted Leo and Aimee Mann’s The Both headline Union Transfer

The Both | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
The Both | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

When Aimee Mann and Ted Leo took the stage Saturday night at Union Transfer as The Both, they started chatting away. Their banter throughout the night ranged from Quaker meetinghouses to Jeb Bush to Paul Stanley of Kiss. They actually had to stop themselves so they could start playing music. This familiarity, paired with their vast live experience, put them at ease with a crowd and made for a glorious night of music. Playing all 11 songs from their self-titled debut plus selections from their respective catalogs, Mann and Leo were a true delight.

Though coming from seemingly different musical spheres, Mann and Leo paired nicely. Switching off lead vocal duties, with Leo leading on songs like opener “Gambler” and Mann beginning “You Can’t Help Me Now,” they expertly interwove their voices. Their spacing on stage, with the great divide between them filled by drummer Matt Mayhall, allowed for frequent encounters in the middle, more in line with a guitar-and-bass handshake than punk jamming. But that makes sense, as Leo’s harder sensibilities are more muted with The Both.

It certainly didn’t hurt that Mann and Leo showered love on Philly itself. Before “Save Me,” Mann regaled the crowd with the odd tale of playing the song during the Liberty Medal ceremony for Hilary Clinton at the National Constitution Center last year. And they seemed very happy to remember opening Boot & Saddle and filming part of the video for the catchy “Milwaukee” there. And before they broke into the tune, they even riffed on a Philadelphia-centric rewrite.

Two other highlights were of differing calibers. There was the humor in someone calling for the Leo song “Bottled in Cork” and Mann and Leo deliberately misunderstanding the request. They first claimed to hear the call for actor Bud Cort, but that devolved to the more playful “Butt Court.” (And, for the record, when they did play “Bottled in Cork,” it rocked.) The encore kicked off with another grand gesture as The Both launched into “Voices Carry,” the 1985 ‘Til Tuesday tune that was Mann’s first major success. In introducing the song, she shared her excitement for Leo’s falsetto. It certainly worked as the penultimate song before their wonderful Thin Lizzy cover, “Honesty Is No Excuse.”

Nick Diamonds and Evan Gordon of Islands opened with a bizarre set of songs by Islands, The Beatles, Wilco and Sinead O’Connor. The Both will return to Philadelphia for a Free at Noon concert at World Café Live on Thursday, May 15.

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The Both introduce an overzealous new band member in “Milwaukee” video

Photo by Christian Lantry
Photo by Christian Lantry

With only a week until their self-titled collaborative project hits shelves, The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo) have released the hilarious new video for “Milwaukee”. In the clip, shot at Boot and Saddle in South Philly, Leo portrays his own washed-up, wannabe rockstar uncle Ed Leo who joins the band. As he masks his face with black makeup, before heading on stage it’s clear that he doesn’t fit the image of the band. Do they let him go or tame his presence? Watch below and catch the band live at XPN’s NonCOMMvention on May 15th. Go here for more details and here for tickets to their Union Transfer show on May 3rd. Stream The Both early over on NPR.

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XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “Milwaukee” by The Both (Aimee Mann & Ted Leo)

Photo by Christian Lantry via RollingStone.com
Photo by Christian Lantry via RollingStone.com

The Both is the new collaboration between singer-songwriter Aimee Mann and punk/indie rock singer-songwriter and guitarist Ted Leo. They’re releasing their self-titled release on April 15th on Aimee’s Super Ego Records and play Philly on May 3rd at Union Transfer.

(Read more: Aimee Mann and Ted Leo open Boot & Saddle – photos, review)

Mann and Leo met each other in 2001, and over the years have become friendly, bonding over twitter, their shared love of music and respect for each other’s work. They decided to begin writing together after touring together. Below, listen to “Milwaukee,” and watch Aimee and Ted talk about their collaboration together.