Saddle Creek Records, 2012
REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/22/2012
The Mynabirds have some serious indie rock credibility. Front woman and mastermind Laura Burhenn was in Georgia James with John Davis of the highly influential DC outfit Q And Not U. Georgia James had a short yet triumphant career that landed them on indie super label Saddle Creek, building on the pair’s mutual love of pop going all the way back to the ’50s. The pair ended up going their separate ways, with Davis forming Title Tracks (great XTC style pop) and Burhenn getting right to work on The Mynabirds.
Burhenn relocated to Omaha right after Georgia James dissolved, and then The Mynabirds (which is essentially Burnhenn solo) released What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood to worldwide acclaim. Burhenn then spent a year touring as part of Bright Eyes (probably the biggest band on the Saddle Creek roster). Though her debut album was on the quieter side of the indie spectrum, with Generals, a self-described protest record, Burhenn pens charged and very eclectic arrangements; in essence it's a more reckless version of her former self.
This is a listen where no two songs resemble each other. While the disc starts off with the gentle “Karma Debt,” this is one of the more subdued tracks you'll find here. By track two, “Wolf Mother,” The Mynabirds are louder, anthemic and displaying foot stomping jams mixed with piano melodies. Later on, you get African inspired rhythms on “Body Of Work” alongside lush, beautiful moments like “Mightier Than The Sword.” Burhenn illustrates she still has a lot of rock 'n' roll spirit in the title track “Generals,” a garage rock call to arms with hints of blues flavor. “Radiation Sister” is one of the disc highlights, where she pairs club friendly vibes with her political frustrations –it’s a song that wouldn't be out of place on any dance floor.
There exists a lot of depth and soul amid these songs. While many songwriters seek to entertain first and foremost, The Mynabirds opt to communicate through their highly engaging spin on indie rock. Much like how her pop-based songwriting is tinted with countless influences, she expresses many sentiments regarding her view of the status quo and offers several ideas on how to combat these ills of society. An eloquent and often encouraging listen, this is a great reminder of just how revolutionary music can be.
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