- 2013 Grammy Nomination - Best Recording Package
Before we begin, I wanted to give a little background on the actual definition of this award, mostly because I don't 100% know for sure what it is for (I can guess, but you know what they say about assuming…). It's "presented for the visual look of an album. It is presented to the art director of the winning album." Ah, well then - take a good look at that cover. Gail Marowitz was the nominee here, technically. And it is quite the little trip. If you look up the artwork on Google, it's really great how everything actually ties together. The patterns and colors are used absolutely throughout, and there's something so unique and admirable here!
All that said, let's see how the music matches up too.
Now, am I the oddball who's never heard of Aimee Mann? This is one of those moments I feel outside of the real music world. Sigh.
She's sang BGVs and front for a variety of rock/punk acts that I've also never heard of. And while she's been going at this since the 80s, her discography dates from 1993.
"Charmer" in Aimee's eighth album, and includes James Mercer (front man for the Shins). It charted at #33 on the charts as well.
Now that I know what I've been missing let's check out this album.
I'll note first off that I have to do this in pieces from Aimee's website, because it's not on Spotify. Damn it. Anywhos, "Charmer," the opening and title track, kicks things off in a way that just made me jump out of my skin. I somehow wasn't expecting such a huge sound right off the bat, but it's cool and slightly retro for sure.
"Disappeared" is just slightly gentler as it opens up. There's more than your typical 3-4 piece band happening - at the very least, someone's playing with a new kind of keyboard. Aimee's voice comes in a little more husky, giving this awesome juxtaposed sound to the gritty yet poppy tracking.
In a very sweet sound, "Labrador" is a great track for a summer day, though it feels like there's some clouds in the vocals. The lyrics, while I can't get to all of them here, are nonetheless really nicely composed alongside the melody.
"Crazytown" is back to the loud electronica of the opening track. It's about now that I'm trying to figure out exactly what kind of music we're discussing here. The vocal effects aren't rock - they're harmonies, but electric ones. And the music is very clean on every single instrument, but playing in a manner than grits on you just enough. Man, this is a total anomaly of a pop/rock album.
And then comes in the odd buzz sounds that open "Soon Enough." I'll admit, I would have liked it without, because for the first twenty seconds my heart just hearts as it holds onto those underlying tones. They go away eventually, and that's just fine, but I can't let go in my head.
If you listen to "Living A Lie" and don't think Beatles, I pity you. That's what rings out here, instrumentally, right away. And there's the guest vocals, by the way, in case you were wondering when they were going to show up like I kind of was. Anywhos, lighter feel here with something billowing beneath.
"Slip And Roll" takes what feels like a totally different curve. It's soft and even bordering country (Linda Ronstandt "country" though), and feels like it's going to maintain that feel for the remainder of the song for sure. God I hate only getting snippets, but to be honest, on first listen this one feels like it's going to potentially put me to sleep anyway.
And in a total psychedelic turn (I still can't spell that right), "Gumby" makes little to no sense in the 30 seconds we get a fast of here. It feels like the creature's look when you associate it with the clay/rubber man/cartoon character. That's all I can think of, and the feel of this song would create his theme song by far.
"Gamma Ray" takes things in a more rock direction, and I can dig this vibe. Again, the harmonies sound manufactured somehow, but that's something I've learned we just have to accept sometimes as music "evolves" and producers have a bit more fun in the studio. The instruments here, however, sound downright raw, which is a surprise from this album overall.
Things slow down and this sounds like the end of the long drinking night. "Barfly" feels like a sad anthem, but then you listen to the lyrics and get really thrown. There's nothing literal in that first verse at all, but maybe things change for the more obvious as the song goes on.
"Red Flag Diver" ends things out in a very acoustic rock feel, and I'd even venture to say that the recording sounds a little more gritty than almost all of the rest of the songs. There's a folk feel this time, instead of a straight up rock one, or even pop. The song stands along out from the crowd in this collection of songs.
Added to My Playlist (if Spotify had it…)
- "Living A Lie"
- "Gamma Ray"
This went quick, and as much as I enjoy pumping out a review pretty quickly, I do wish I got the full experience. This was a great intro to an artist I wasn't familiar with though, so I'm grateful for the opportunity. As far as connection to the album artwork? I honestly don't completely feel the connection in some instances, but those clean lined pop/rock songs? They match perfectly for sure. Nomination earned.