The Both

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The Both
Aimee Mann (left) and Ted Leo (right)
The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo) in Philadelphia on May 3, 2014
Background information
Genres Indie rock, power pop
Years active 2013–present
Labels SuperEgo Records
Website www.the-both.com
Members Aimee Mann
Ted Leo

The Both is an American musical duo consisting of Aimee Mann and Ted Leo, both of whom had longstanding musical careers before beginning a collaboration in 2013. Their first album, self-titled The Both, was released in April 2014.

Origins[edit]

Mann and Leo performing in Milwaukee on November 11, 2012
Ghost logo of The Both, used on T-shirts and album cover
Leo performing with Mann in December 2015, wearing Scott Miller button

The songwriting collaboration between Aimee Mann and Ted Leo originated during a joint concert tour in 2012, and specifically with an appearance together at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on November 11, 2012, which was later described in the lyrics of their song "Milwaukee."[1] At that time, Leo was the opening act for Mann, and the two sometimes collaborated on stage.[2] They began writing songs together in December 2012.[3]

Mann and Leo were initially brought to each other's attention in 2001, when Scott Miller, leader of the bands Game Theory and The Loud Family, gave Mann one of Leo's albums.[4][5] Miller, who died in April 2013, was later described as having a "special, spiritual, guru-like presence" in the heart of The Both's debut album.[5]

On March 8, 2013, the duo performed their first show together as #BOTH, formatting the band's name as a hashtag.[6][7]

Personnel and performances[edit]

Mann and Leo frequently trade off lead vocal duties within their songs, each taking a verse before joining in harmonies that "expertly interw[ea]ve their voices."[8]

Mann performs on bass and acoustic guitar, and Leo performs on electric guitar. In addition, during concerts Leo occasionally plays a modeling keyboard to replicate a few overdubs of strings and synthesized flute from the studio recordings that, according to Leo, "have become important parts of the songs" to him.[9]

The Both have also become known for their extended on-stage "jokey banter",[10] with "quips and asides" described as "nearly as great as the songs they fed into."[11] Their concerts have been called "one part super-group show, and one part close friends... fluidly (and hilariously) play[ing] off of one another."[12]

The Both typically perform with a guest drummer who is introduced and acknowledged, but who has no singing or speaking role onstage. Session drummer Scott Seiver toured with The Both in 2013 and played on the band's debut album. For the band's 2014 tour, Matt Mayhall replaced Seiver on drums, with Mann commenting in an interview, "We're a power trio."[13]

The Both (2014)[edit]

The Both
The Both album front cover.jpg
Studio album by The Both
Released April 15, 2014
Length 41:59
Producer Paul Bryan
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 79/100[14]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[15]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[16]
Spin 7/10[17]

On April 15, 2014, The Both released their debut album, self-titled The Both, on Mann's label, SuperEgo Records.

Writing and production notes[edit]

Mann and Leo had initially announced in 2013 that they would be releasing an EP together,[5] but after writing enough material for an EP, they decided to continue the collaboration and release a full LP.[3]

The album's songs were written by a cross-country exchange of notes, taking "stems of an idea and kick[ing] them back and forth," according to Leo.[13] As Mann described the songwriting process to Billboard, there were "some songs where each person has their verse, the chorus may be written by one person, the bridge written by the other, but there are definitely songs where we would go over line-by-line or just ask each other questions" to "focus the narrative."[3]

The first co-written song, "You Can't Help Me Now," was started by Leo, who described himself as "shaken" when he received Mann's initial notes on the song, because "a person who I respect so much is handing me negative notes about something I wrote. It was really just my own quaking ego.... But we got past that pretty quickly."[18] Leo described the partnership with Mann as "literally the best thing that has happened to my writing process in my life."[18]

According to Mann, the song "Bedtime Stories" was written about Scott Miller, as an expression of mourning and as "a musical salute ... consciously a tribute to him, especially the chord progression of the chorus, which is very, very Loud Family."[5]

The album was produced by Paul Bryan, a member of Mann's band, and was recorded in Los Angeles throughout 2013.[1] Bryan also is credited as a performer on the album.

Music videos[edit]

During the week prior to the release of the album, SuperEgo Records released a music video of "Milwaukee," by director Daniel Ralston.[3][19] The video featured Leo as both himself and his fictional uncle Ed Leo, supposedly a former drummer for A.O.D., providing a comical clash of styles while touring as drummer for The Both.[3][20]

Later in 2014, the SuperEgo label released a music video for "Volunteers of America," also directed by Ralston.[21]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by the Both, except "Honesty is No Excuse" written by Phil Lynott.

No. Title Length
1. "The Gambler" 3:08
2. "Milwaukee" 4:21
3. "No Sir" 3:46
4. "Volunteers of America" 3:44
5. "Pay For It" 3:16
6. "You Can't Help Me Now" 3:39
7. "The Prisoner" 4:41
8. "Hummingbird" 4:04
9. "Honesty is No Excuse" 3:28
10. "Bedtime Stories" 4:05
11. "The Inevitable Shove" 3:50

The Barnes & Noble release of this album has two bonus tracks: acoustic versions of Milwaukee and No Sir.

Critical reception[edit]

The Both debuted on the Billboard 200 at #59,[22] and on the Billboard Independent Albums chart at #12.[23] Billboard called the album "a synthesis and meeting-in-the-middle of Leo and Mann's sonic signatures", resulting in a "warm, intimate and often exuberant piece of work."[3]

The collaboration was well-received, with NPR's Stephen Thompson writing that "each singer sounds freshened and energized — never diminished."[24] The A.V. Club wrote, "Even as Mann pushes toward friendly pop-rock and Leo pulls toward spiky punkiness, the lack of struggle in that mild tension makes for a charm offensive that's hard to resist."[25] The Boston Globe cited "hand-in-glove harmonies" as the album's strongest point, with Mann's "mesmerizing, chalky murmur" giving a "warmly blurry edge" to Leo, while Leo's brashness helped "rough up her style."[26]

Spin called the album "the best thing either artist has ever done," and a "pleasant late-career surprise from an auteur who needed more power and a rocker who needed more pop."[17] In a previous article, Spin cited the song "Milwaukee" as both "brainy and leanly catchy, with a peppy chorus" and a "rollicking, raise-your-beers guitar solo."[4]

Chart (2014) Peak Position
US Billboard 200[27] 59
US Top Rock Albums (Billboard)[28] 15
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[29] 12
US Top Alternative Albums (Billboard)[30] 12

Christmas releases[edit]

In 2014 and 2015, prior to tours together billed as "The Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Christmas Show,"[31] The Both released Christmas-themed songs as singles. "Nothing Left to Do (Let’s Make This Christmas Blue)," released in November 2014, was described by Stereogum as "a sweet song with some dark lyrics lamenting the feeling of listlessness that can come along with the holiday season."[32] "You're a Gift," released in December 2015, conveyed a wistful theme of holiday anxiety and "longing for someone to hunker down with and enjoy the holiday spirit with."[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Luerssen, John D. (January 24, 2014). "Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Join Forces as the Both". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2014-01-29. 
  2. ^ Gottlieb, Jed (April 15, 2014). "Aimee Mann, Ted Leo reveal Both sides of their story". The Edge. The Boston Herald. Archived from the original on 2014-04-20. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Flanagan, Andrew (April 25, 2014). "Ted Leo & Aimee Mann Q&A: On The Both, Learning To Collaborate and Their Musical Theater Future". Billboard. Archived from the original on 2014-04-25. 
  4. ^ a b Hogan, Marc (January 24, 2014). "Aimee Mann and Ted Leo, as the Both, Bronze the Fonz on Punchy 'Milwaukee'". Spin. Archived from the original on 2014-02-03. 
  5. ^ a b c d Willman, Chris (January 2014). "About". The Both. Archived from the original on 2014-04-16. 
  6. ^ Hogan, Marc (February 22, 2013). "She & He: Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Form #BOTH". Spin. Archived from the original on 2014-02-23. 
  7. ^ Mann, Aimee (March 2013). "Announcing Shows by #BOTH (Aimee Mann & Ted Leo)". Archived from the original on 2013-03-02. 
  8. ^ Sikich, Chris (May 5, 2014). "A casual night of rock and conversation as Ted Leo and Aimee Mann's The Both headline Union Transfer". The Key. Philadelphia, PA: WXPN. Archived from the original on 2014-05-13. 
  9. ^ Mervis, Scott (May 1, 2014). "Aimee Mann, Ted Leo combine their divergent talents in new duo project". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on 2014-05-02. 
  10. ^ Trust, Gary (May 2, 2014). "Aimee Mann, Ted Leo Bring The Both To Brooklyn: Live Review". Billboard. Archived from the original on 2014-05-13. 
  11. ^ Partridge, Kenneth (April 14, 2014). "Ted Leo and Aimee Mann: On Being The Both". Consequence of Sound. Archived from the original on 2014-05-14. 
  12. ^ Graham, Christian Sarkis (May 5, 2014). "Photos: The Both at Union Transfer". Philadelphia Magazine. Archived from the original on 2014-05-13. 
  13. ^ a b Miliard, Mike (April 24, 2014). "Aimee Mann and Ted Leo join forces". Portland Phoenix. Portland, Maine. Archived from the original on 2014-04-30. 
  14. ^ "The Both". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  15. ^ Sendra, Tim (2014). "Review: The Both". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2014-04-28. 
  16. ^ Hermes, Will (April 17, 2014). "The Both". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2014-04-28. 
  17. ^ a b Weiss, Dan (April 7, 2014). "Ted Leo and Aimee Mann Double Your Power-Pop Pleasure as 'The Both'". Spin. Archived from the original on 2014-04-28. 
  18. ^ a b Reed, James (April 24, 2014). "Aimee Mann, Ted Leo team up as the Both". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 2014-04-25. 
  19. ^ SuperEgo Records (April 9, 2014). "The Both - Milwaukee" (official music video). YouTube. 
  20. ^ Eakin, Marah (April 9, 2014). "Ted Leo plays his aging rocker uncle in a new video from The Both". The A.V. Club. 
  21. ^ SuperEgo Records (August 27, 2014). "The Both - Volunteers of America" (official music video). YouTube. 
  22. ^ "The Both Album & Song Chart History". Billboard 200 for The Both. May 3, 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-04-28. 
  23. ^ "The Both Album & Song Chart History". Billboard Independent Albums for The Both. May 3, 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-04-28. 
  24. ^ Thompson, Stephen (2014-04-06). "First Listen: The Both, 'The Both'". NPR. 
  25. ^ Heller, Jason (April 15, 2014). "Aimee Mann and Ted Leo find common ground as The Both". The A.V. Club. 
  26. ^ Rodman, Sarah (April 15, 2014). "As the Both, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo make a dynamic duo". The Boston Globe. 
  27. ^ "The Both Album & Song Chart History". Billboard 200 for The Both. May 3, 2014. 
  28. ^ "The Both Album & Song Chart History". Billboard Top Rock Albums for The Both. June 7, 2014. 
  29. ^ "The Both Album & Song Chart History". Billboard Independent Albums for The Both. May 3, 2014. 
  30. ^ "The Both Album & Song Chart History". Billboard Alternative Albums for The Both. June 7, 2014. 
  31. ^ Duguay, Rob (December 8, 2015). "Interview: Now Christmas collaborators, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo find common musical ground". Vanyaland. Archived from the original on 2016-01-28. 
  32. ^ Rettig, James (November 12, 2014). "The Both – 'Nothing Left To Do (Let's Make This Christmas Blue)'". Stereogum. Archived from the original on 2015-08-04. 
  33. ^ Haskoor, Michael (December 15, 2015). "Aimee Mann, Ted Leo Release New Christmas Song 'You're A Gift' as The Both". Music Times. Archived from the original on 2016-01-28. 

External links[edit]