ROCK/POP AIMEE MANN
Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Sat 13 Oct. . W a. —
It’s taken almost twenty years for Aimee Mann to get where she wants to be. Touring to
support her third solo album Bachelor No 2, ' " " " "
Mann has endured the very worst that the music industry could throw at her, and has made it
here on her own terms, on her own label, and at
her critical and commercial peak.
From her 80’s roots in MTV favourite Til Tuesday, Mann escaped from major label purgatory (‘write some hits!’ they said — so she collaborated with Elvis Costello . . .) with the release of her 1993 solo debut Whatever. A UK tour supporting World Party followed, where Karl Wallinger’s rehashed Beatles melodies and retro stylings were no match for Mann’s clarity of songwriting and brutal lyrical honesty.
It was around this time however, that record label Imago went bust, and it took Mann two years to resurface on Geffen, with the critically acclaimed I’m With Stupid. Less immediate than the emotional outbursts of Whatever, it did seem like her career was back on track, and we waited expectantly for the third album. And waited. Only to discover that Geffen had passed
her recording contract to global behemoth lnterscope, who said ‘write some hits!’ . . . At this point, finally, Mann escaped the major labels that blighted her 1990’s career. Released from her contract, she bought her own master tapes, set up her own SuperEgo Records, and gave us Bachelor No 2. Handily, film director and close friend Paul Thomas Anderson
BEN & JASON
King Tut's, Glasgow, Sat 13 Oct.
Songs from NAM veterans
Oh dear. And things seemed to be going so well for Ben Parker (guitars and vocals) and Jason Hazeley (keyboards) up until now. From ‘terribly romantic‘ beginnings selling sheet music — eventually graduating to Parker's own firm in Croydon — the boredom of the day job became the spur for them to write their own songs. Said songs combined Ben‘s love for the more traditional: Dylan and Led Zeppelin; with Jason's slightly leftfield tastes: XTC and The Beach Boys' more psychedelic offerings. Thus came about the tuneful folk-
pop of debut mini-LP Hello and the first album proper. Emoticons.
So — with the new single ‘The Wild Things‘ soaring from radios across the land — the time is right to make that mainstream crossover. you would think. Or maybe not. because the single's stalled at a first week chart placing of 81. The pair are cheerin self- deprecating about this. but Parker can't quite hide his frustration — with the benefit of hindsight about recent world events — at the potential cost of having released a song with the main choral line ‘Smash everything up / Tear everything down‘.
Sales notwithstanding. though. both would still prefer to let their way with a tune speak for itself. rather than allowing the band to become mired in any media fabrication like the New Acoustic Movement. ‘Yeah, I got shot down in NAM, man'. quips Parker before firing off a broadside at his contemporaries. ‘You get a lot of bands that just throw their stuff together, but because it's got a loose. baggy. acoustic sound people are like "oh yeah. that‘s great, it's part of the blues". whereas we write songs and it just so happens we do it acoustically'.
Harsh words. then. Either way. though. he’s right . . . they do have the songs. as yOLi'll find out soon enough. (David Pollock)
simultaneously used the same songs as the basis for his film Magnolia. The success of which vindicated his belief in Mann as a songwriter; while the sales of the soundtrack proved to those short-sighted record labels that all. Not even a little!’ ‘Put Me On Top’, an early a little faith in an artist can pay off.
Mann’s almost pathological fear of, and distaste for, relationships has formed the basis
Mann made success
for some of her finest lyrics. But any concerns that her newly married status may cause a mellowing out are misplaced. When asked about a potential sunnier outlook, Mann replied ‘Not at
track from Whatever contains the line ‘I should be riding on a float in the hit parade’. Ten years on she’s finally climbed onboard. (Michael Apter)
ELECTRONICA GROOVE ARMADA QMU, Glasgow, Thu 18 Oct.
It may be hard to imagine the Brooklyn-born rapper, Jeru the Damaja, strolling about in the Costwolds but. if you are trying to describe the sound of Groove Armada. then it's worth it. The gentle. pastoral bit you won't have a problem with. The ‘quaint little villages' refrain and the slow sultry trombone of ‘At The River' (their reworking of Patti Page‘s ‘Old Cape God) are the most striking feature of their best know tune. despite the 130,000 copies they sold of the subsequent Vertigo album.
It's the tough Damaja-loving part of the Groove Armada duo, that is perhaps less obvious. Yet on their new album Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub) Andy Cato and Tom Findlay provide the perfect textured backdrop to the caustic rap of the scourge of corporate hip-hop himself: ‘Jeru was a bloke of two halves really.’ says Andy. 'He came to London and got in touch with us wanting to appear on the new album. He came into the studio and delivered the rap that 's on ‘Suntoucher' pretty much within half an hour. We got him back in to do another tune later. but by this time we'd decamped to the Cotswolds. where we recorded the rest of the record. but he wasn‘t so happy there.‘
As it's title suggests Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub) is looking towards the driving, housier sound revealed in ‘I See You Baby' — the single Groove Armada released after ‘At The River‘ and not at some rural paradise.
‘In the country. the studio was only mellow in the sense that we didn't deal with anything except music. In reality. it was an exhausting process to get the record exactly how we wanted it.‘ With the boys returning to their guitars but alsc involving 70s production legend Nile Rodgers on the album. there's clearly even more contradictions at work in their sound. Best not look into it too hard. Best just listen. (Tim Abrahams)
Country manners from the Armada
4-18 Oct 2001 THE LIST 47