Aimee Mann in for the punch 

Although her last album, “@#%&*! Smilers,” was released three years ago, ex-’Til Tuesday quirk-rocker Aimee Mann has been popping up in some strange places lately — such as on the IFC comedy series “Portlandia,” in which she recently guest-starred as a cleaning woman.

Or at the White House, where she performed two songs for the president and his wife in May in a program celebrating poetry.

National Public Radio also listed her in its Top 10 Living Songwriters rundown, alongside Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, and the Huffington Post cited her as one of “13 Funny Musicians You Should Be Following on Twitter.”

Make no mistake — Mann, who plays the Mountain Winery on Thursday, has been quite busy. She already has written her next record, scheduled for an early 2012 release, in a six-week burst, and has thoroughly revamped her work-in-progress musical “The Forgotten Arm,” based on her 2005 concept album of the same name about a washed-up, on-the-lam boxer and his gal.

“We have a completely different idea for the story and a totally different writer, and I think we’re going to add another more central character that will tie everybody together,” says the singer, who’s adding brand-new songs. 

Mann also wound up in Kevin Seccia’s satiric fighting manual “Punching Tom Hanks.”

“It has strategies for beating up different people, and it’s hilarious,” she says. “He actually does a piece on how to beat me up, and I do a rebuttal on how to beat him up.”

It’s only fair, since the lithe blonde knockout has studied boxing for eight years, and trained with the best in the business, including Freddie Roach, who nurtured champs like Manny Pacquiao.

“Hey, it’s fun to hit stuff, you know?” she says.

It was Seccia who first introduced the newbie to Roach.

“And Freddie just got the mitts out and said, ‘Let’s go,’” she says. “So I’ve done a lot of sparring, and when you’re just starting and you get hit, your instinct is to just hit them as much as possible to make it stop. But now I’m like, ‘What’s my strategy here?’”

Her secret weapon: a killer left hook.

“But for me, just being able to keep my wits about me when I’ve been hit is something,” she says.

Courtesy of Roach, Mann has caught a few Pacquiao-Erik Morales bouts; most other major fights she dissects on TV.

“Learning the mechanics of boxing has certainly made watching it more interesting,” she says. “And it’s helped me onstage, too — if you make a mistake, just keep moving, because that punch is over. It’s all about the next one now.”


Aimee Mann

With Liz Phair

Where: Mountain Winery, 14831 Pierce Road, Saratoga

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $47.35 to $69

Contact: (800) 745-3000;

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