Before heading out on the road with Okkervil River, Omaha band The Mynabirds are releasing a snappy, foot stomping kind of video for "Disarm", from their recent Saddle Creek release GENERALS. Says Laura Burheen, "As I was writing this concept record about war and discord and what we can personally do in the face of so much tragedy...I started thinking about how issues in our personal lives play out on the larger scale -- and vice versa". It's a thinker then.
Before Georgie James, Laura Burhenn (half of the former DC duo) had spent her early years crafting music on her own. So when Georgie James split, she went back to what she knew. In the spring of 2009, Laura gathered her favorite books, records, and people around her and wrote what would become the first album from her new band, The Mynabirds.
What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood was recorded in the rugged hills of Oregon in the summer of 2009 with singer-songwriter/producer Richard Swift at the helm. Laura and Richard took turns at instruments until the record was fully orchestrated. When they finished recording each night, they'd polish off a bottle of whiskey and dance to records Dandy Livingstone, Buffy Sainte-Marie, James Brown until the sun came up. That energy really shows itself on The Mynabirds' debut album, particularly in Let the Record Go and Numbers Don't Lie. Other songs, like What We Gained in the Fire and Right Place, are more reflective, the lyrics following a Zen trajectory, echoing the sentiment of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass.
The album features some notable guests. Besides Richard's Swifts contributions on backing vocals and nearly every instrument imaginable, Orenda Fink (Azure Ray, O+S) and musician/engineer/producer AJ Mogis (Criteria, Monsters of Folk, Tilly and the Wall) lent their voices; Tom Hnatow (These United States) played pedal steel; and Nate Walcott (Bright Eyes) arranged the horns that underscore The Mynabirds' tight, soul-soaked sound.
Having always wanted to make a record that sounded like Neil Young doing Motown, the discovery of the near mythical 60's R&B group, The Mynah Birds, featuring none other than Neil Young (and Rick James among others), seemed all too serendipitous. Thus, The Mynabirds found their namesake. The Mynabirds certainly summon that spirit, nodding to gospel and garage and making a sound all their own, with echoes of Dusty Springfield and Bobbie Gentry bleeding through the tape.
The debut album from The Mynabirds is available now. Download "Numbers Don't Lie"
and "Let The Record Go"
for free from Saddle Creek's media section.