These things are never supposed to work.
How many aging musical veterans, too aware their star is fading, have decided to team up, hoping for another fifteen minutes of fame? How many ZWAN's and Chickenfoot's do we have to endure for a simple Broken Bells?
The Both defy the odds.
Aimee Mann spent the 80s in cult favorite 'Til Tuesday before setting off on a successful solo career singing melancholy pop (and having the occasional Portlandia cameo). Ted Leo was in about a half-dozen bands in the 90s, including pseudo-punk ensemble Chisel, before settling into a permanent home alongside the Pharmacists, though he regularly performs on his own.
Maybe the secret to their success is that it happened organically, starting after a joint tour in 2012. Aimee Mann talked to the City Paper about the duo's origin: "That tour was just a suggestion from my booking agent that came kind of randomly," Mann recalls. "[Leo] traveled with us by bus and that's how our friendship peaked. That's how we started writing together."
The Post-Gazette asked Ted Leo how each musician's fans have reacted to their combined billing:
"The shows that we've played have been super fun and the crowds have been really fantastic," he says. "While obviously there are people there who want to hear one or two of our own songs" -- which they are doing -- "it's also really great with the record having been for two weeks or whatever, to have people actually knowing the songs from the record.
Reviews for the album, which was released just two weeks ago, have been overwhelmingly positive. The Chicago Tribune said the album felt "unified:" "Despite the formidable solo careers involved, The Both improbably sounds like the work of a band." (They scored it 3.5 / 4 stars.)
Here's the video for their first single, "Milwaukee:"
The Both will perform at Mr. Smalls this Monday, May 5, at 8 PM. Tickets for the all ages show cost $20 and are available via Ticketweb. Nick Diamonds of Islands opens.
We have a pair of tickets to give away for this performance. Email us your name to pghmusicreport [at] gmail.com, and put "The Both" in the subject line. We'll announce a winner Saturday night.
-- B. Conway