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The Mynabirds At Amoeba, Tuesday August 18th 2015 Review


The Mynabirds


I remember seeing The Mynabirds at the Bootleg, I had truly enjoyed their show and it was at least 3 years ago… They played a short set at Amoeba on Tuesday night to promote their new album, ‘Lovers Know’, but when I say ‘their’, may be I should say ‘her’ because the Mynabirds is mostly synonymous with Laura Burhenn, a frontwoman with a strong stage presence, who interestingly named her band after James Joyce, and Neil Young’s Motown period (The Mynah Birds, with band mate Rick James).

The Mynabirds’ last album, ‘Generals’ was released in 2012, but meanwhile Laura has toured as part of Bright Eyes during the People’s Key tour in 2011, and as a member of the Postal Service with Jenny Lewis in 2013. 2015 was the year for the release of her third album ‘Lover Knows’ on Saddle Creek after a year of traveling across the US and South Africa where she did a solo tour…. And this may have explained her zebra-printed dress she was wearing at Amoeba.

Surrounded by three musicians, she played a few songs from her new album, ‘Velveteen’, ‘Semantic’, ‘Believer’, ‘Wildfire’, ‘All my Heart’, with her beautiful voice both ethereal and powerful, a smoky depth which reminded me of Cat Power in her quiet moments, a few amazing howls and some soulful (almost R&B) outbursts, while her style was that of woman clearly in possession of her talent.

The music had a comforting and soothing vibe, sometimes slowly sprawling in a solemn way, with dark girl-boy harmonies (as she was harmonizing with her bassist), sparse drums and a lost western guitar. This was almost close to the atmospheric soundscape you hear on The Nationals’ songs. Other tunes were all organ power, a few synth-pop carefree and uplifting numbers such as their potential pop anthem ‘Wildfire’… but it was the gravity of the slow and airy ones that I preferred…. Actually, the new album has been described recalling artists as diverse and prestigious as Kate Bush, Sinead O’Connor, Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and even 90s hip hop and R&B, which shows how diverse opinions about music can be.

‘I love with all my heart’ she repeated during ‘All my Heart’, making the best of the rich textures of her voice. Actually her voice was so strong that she didn’t hesitate to play the last one (a song from her first album, ‘What we gained in the fire’) alone on keyboards. She also explained that she filmed a new video for ‘Wildfire’ with her lady friends, in Venice beach , a very close-by location, considering the amount of traveling she did while making this new record: it was recorded in Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park, Nashville and Auckland, New Zealand,

‘There’s something about wandering the world over,’ said Laura in an interview, ‘that makes you realize how similar we all are – everyone searching for something, so often the same thing: love. It may sound trite, but it’s true. Love – or the lack of it – is the thing we all have in common. It can destroy us. It can break us open and let the light in. And it’s also the thing that can make us sing.’

The Mynabirds will also play at the Twilight concert series in Santa Monica, next Thursday, where they will open for Ariel Pink,… and why not a duet between a bird and a mermaid then?

Pictures of the show here


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