Prospect Park Bandshell
Ninth St. & Prospect Park West
Thursday, June 21, free, 7:00
On June 21, the free BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival is hosting one of its best summer lineups at the Prospect Park Bandshell, with Aimee Mann, Superchunk, and Jonathan Coulton. For four decades, Mann has proved herself to be one of the most brilliant singer-songwriters in the business, a perceptive and immensely clever wordsmith who digs deep into the heart in intimate songs about loss, love, and hope. (She’ll break your heart over and over again in this video for “Goose Snow Cone.”) But various bad dealings with record companies have kept her from becoming the superstar she should be, although she gets plenty of critical and popular acclaim. Originally with the Boston band ’Til Tuesday in the 1980s, Mann broke out on her own in the 1990s, releasing such fab albums as Whatever in 1993 and I’m with Stupid two years later. Her most recent disc, last year’s Mental Illness, earned her a Grammy for Best Folk Album; several of the songs are based on people she knows who are suffering from various forms of mental illness. Mann collaborated on three Mental Illness songs, “Patient Zero,” “Good for Me,” and “Rollercoasters,” with Brooklyn-based SuperEgo labelmate and graphic novelist Coulton, a friend whom she describes as “an internet-famous, nerd-centric songwriter, but he’s really great.” Coulton’s latest album, 2017’s Solid State, features such wide-ranging tunes as the Beatles-esque “Square Things,” the ballad “Pictures of Cats,” and the poppy “Don’t Feed the Trolls,” referring to social media.
Chapel Hill indie legends Superchunk, who will be celebrating their thirtieth anniversary next year (including a nine-year sabbatical), are coheadlining with Mann, touring behind their new disc, What a Time to Be Alive, a punk take on the world today, with such songs as “Erasure,” “Cloud of Hate,” and “Reagan Youth.” “It would be strange to be in a band, at least our band, and make a record that completely ignored the surrounding circumstances that we live in and that our kids are going to grow up in,” singer, guitarist, and cofounder Mac McCaughan says, explaining that the album’s “about a pretty dire and depressing situation but hopefully not a record that is dire and depressing to listen to.” In many ways, Mann could say the exact same thing about Mental Illness.