Following in the footsteps
of his wife, Aimee Mann, singer-songerwriter Michael Penn has finally liberated
himself from major-label servitude, ending his uneasy partnership with RCA to
promote his music on his own label, Mimeograph. The result? Mr.
Jr. 1947, a loosely constructed
narrative about Los Angeles in the aftermath of World War II that is Penn’s
first collection of new material since 2000’s MP4. Though Penn may never achieve the commercial
success enjoyed by younger brothers Sean and Chris -- he hasn’t scored a hit
single since “No Myth” peaked at number 13 on the Billboard charts in 1990 --
he remains a critic’s darling thanks to his clever hooks, Beatles-esque
melodies and sophisticated wordplay. Mr. Hollywood highlights those strengths nicely, as well it should
-- after all, Penn, 47, spent more than half a decade writing, researching and
self-producing it. He will appear at Café Du Nord on Friday and Saturday, Sept.
9 and 10, with alt-country star Jesse Sykes, performing acoustic renditions of
songs from his entire catalogue. For tickets, call the Café Du Nord box office
at 861-5016 or visit www.ticketweb.com.