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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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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Both at Union Transfer, Ataloft at the Ardmore Music Hall, Jessy Lanza at North Star Bar and more

The Both | via facebook.com/theboth
Tonight, audiences will get the best of both worlds. After touring together in 2012, singer / songwriter Aimee Mann and punk / indie guitarist Ted Leo have teamed together for a new project, The Both. On April 15, the two released their first and self-titled album via Mann’s Super Ego Records. (Fun Fact: The Both was the first band to play at the newly opened Boot & Saddle.) Check them out tonight at Union Transfer. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $24.

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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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Stream new albums by The Afghan Whigs and The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo)

Photo by Piper Ferguson
Photo by Piper Ferguson

The Afghan Whigs and The Both (Ted Leo and Aimee Mann) are performing at WXPN’s annual music industry gathering, the Non-Commvention, happening May 14-16 at World Cafe Live. Both the Whigs and The Both have new albums coming out on Tuesday, April 15th. You can stream them each in their entirety here via NPR Music.

The Afghan Whigs are releasing their first album of all new material in 16 years, Do To The Beast, Fronted by guitarist and singer Greg Dulli, and longtime Whigs’ bassist John Curley, they’re joined by the Whigs’ current core players – guitarists Dave Rosser and Jon Skibic, multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson, and drummer Cully Symington. While original Whigs guitarist Rick McCollum does not appear on the record, there are numerous guest appearances, including Van Hunt, Mark McGuire (Emeralds), Usher’s musical director Johnny “Natural” Najera, Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys), Clay Tarver (Bullet LaVolta, Chavez), Dave Catching (QOTSA, Eagles of Death Metal), Patrick Keeler (Raconteurs, Greenhornes), Ben Daughtrey (Squirrel Bait), and Joseph Arthur. Ann Powers of NPR Music sums up the record succinctly, and writes:

Running with the album’s cinematic feel, Do to the Beast is in many ways Dulli’s . It conjures the 1990s in flashbacks, but its voices belong to men who’ve outlived the youth they had then. Dulli uses murder metaphors in “Matamoros” and “The Lottery,” and the supernatural enters into “Lost in the Woods” and “Royal Cream.” The real reason Do to the Beast resembles this year’s television preoccupation is that it gives us the voice and vision of a solitary, brilliant man in a constant tug-of-war with evil, as he imagines it — and as it still runs, though quieter now, in his veins.

Stream The Afghan Whigs’s Do To The Beast here.

Stephen Thompson, of NPR Music, writes about The Both:

Photo by Christian Lantry
Photo by Christian Lantry

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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.

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Report: Opening night at Boot and Saddle with The Both (Ted Leo and Aimee Mann)

The Both | Photo by Matthew Shaver | www.mattshaverphoto.com
The Both | Photo by Matthew Shaver | www.mattshaverphoto.com

All photos by Matthew Shaver | www.mattshaverphoto.com

Being the new guy on the block in a city that is already saturated with quality music venues is a potentially awkward position to be in. Making a good impression can be an especially daunting task when there is no shortage of smaller venues willing to host the latest up-and-comers, hidden gems, and eternally indie acts. But Boot and Saddle, the newest R5 Productions joint venture, definitely made a good first impression.

The Show
Gonna go ahead and dump my street cred down the sewers: I didn’t get in to Aimee Mann until the Magnolia soundtrack found my CD player. Sorry. [Note: me either. -ed.]  I’ve loved her ever since, if that makes up for it, even a little. Ted Leo, on the other hand, is sort of an adopted son of DC, my hometown, and so I’ve been heavily invested in whatever he does for ages. Both of them have had extensive plays on my iPods over the years, but I can say with 99% accuracy that they have never been on any of them at the same time.

So, the combination of the two seemed curious to me at first, but, after last night, I would declare them a royal duo. Continue reading →