Aimee Mann “Mental Illness”
Aimee Mann’s ninth LP is not exactly a pick-me-up type of pop record, in fact, it is quite the opposite as she told Rolling Stone that Mental Illness is the saddest record she’s ever recorded. It bluntly lays bare painful vignettes of heartache, anger, and remorse. Mann has amazing versatility, as her earlier albums were mostly power pop but recent history as placed her more in the chamber folk category.
The light playful rhythm of “Goose Snow Cone” is the opening track, and the breezy melody showcases the homesickness of a pet and how she’s got to “keep it together when your friends come by.” The restrained tension in Mann’s vocals is her specialty, and it recalls Joni Mitchell at her peak. “Stuck In The Past” is sly waltz of despair, and the darkness envelopes these tunes, like a sweetness with a sour aftertaste on “You Never Loved Me.” It takes a few listens to objectively hear the tragic stories that seem too real to be fiction; “Rollercoasters,” “Patient Zero” and “Lies Of Summer” are also standouts. Mann’s style showcases a sobering record that truly deserves attention.
Bill Popp and The Tapes “Popp Hits the 60’s”
Singer/songwriter Bill Popp is a veteran indie player on the New York City rock scene. He’s been performing live in NYC venues since the 1970s, and he has been leading his own band, Bill Popp & the Tapes, since 1981. Pop loves his classic 60’s rock influences and lets it show on Popp Hits The 60’s. This is a great EP that starts with the piano and guitar bounce of “ The World She Knows” and the very Badinger-ish ballad “In My Head” has a terrific slide guitar break toward the songs end.
And Popp doesn’t take himself too seriously either, as the hilarious kazoo-assisted “When I Was Stoned” is like a lost NRBQ track. Popp also has a new 2-song EP out called Popp’s Last Flush! which humorously chronicles his biography (and his day job) on “Flushing This Plumbing Job Down The Drain.” Great fun!