Saddle Creek | The Mynabirds | Reviews



Author: Katie Fennelly
03/05/2012 | UNL Daily Nebraskan | | Live Show Preview
Richard Avedon's photo "Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution" is a little misleading.

It shows a group of women who look important, but they don't appear revolutionary just upper-class women in fancy gowns.

But the non-profit organization of nearly the same name (Daughters of the American Revolution), which has aimed to promote volunteer women's service and patriotism for over a century, served as inspiration for The Mynabirds' sophomore album.

The Omaha-based band's newest album, "Generals," is set for a spring release on Saddle Creek Records. The Mynabirds will play at the Zoo Bar on Tuesday with Sons of 76 and The Sleepover.

Frontwoman Laura Burhenn took a break from preparing for the band's upcoming tour to talk to the Daily Nebraskan.

Daily Nebraskan: The album art for "Generals" is a dramatic, almost ferocious picture of you. What does it represent to you?

Laura Burhenn: It's based on Richard Avedon's photo "Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution." My friend and photographer DP Muller took the picture and it's me as a warrior. I wanted to capture the exact instant before I go into a metaphoric battle where I fight for what I believe in.

DN: This album has a different feel than your first album, "What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood." What was it that caused the shift?

LB: It's very different and it was a conscious effort to do something very different. "What We Lose in the Fire" is about a period of loss and the comfort that comes with it. This record is a political protest record, which is something I've always wanted to do.

DN: You released the title track as the album's first single and used part of "Mightier than the Sword" in a video you made for Valentine's Day, and they sound different from one another. Where does the rest of the album fall?

LB: The majority of the album is somewhere in the middle. One song feels very African. We use a lot of stomping and clapping throughout the album. There are maybe three songs that are slower and those need to be on the album, because if you set out to make a protest record, it has to be personal.

DN: If "Generals" is a protest record, what is it that you are protesting?

LB: Our generation, especially people in college or younger, don't know a pre-9/11 world. I don't want us to forget about the atrocities that are still happening. We can't become numb to them. I guess you could say the album is a protest against the status quo. It's a voice speaking from the general public; it's personal. This record is about you and me.

DN: What's it going to be like on tour? Are you going to go for that harder anthemic sound that can be found on "Generals" or are the songs from your previous album going to keep their original sound?

LB: This tour is going to have a lot more percussion. It's basically the same touring band, but we've changed the instruments a little bit. We have a sampler that we play and we are going to use a lot of lummi sticks, which are those wooden rhythm sticks you used to play in preschool. We are also borrowing stomp boxes from our friends Tilly and the Wall. We're going to take the old songs that we are playing live and make them a little louder, a little less precious.

DN: Does what you are listening to affect the songs you write?

LB: Absolutely. Your surroundings in general, too. I was on tour with Bright Eyes last year and it's hard to not think about making political music when you are around Conor (Oberst). I admired the risks he was willing to take musically, being brave enough to do something different. So I was willing to take that leap and write a protest record. I made a conscious effort to go back to Nina Simone and PJ Harvey, who I've always admired.

DN: The tour comes almost simultaneously with a new project for you. Can you tell us about it?

LB: Sure! It's called "The New Revolutionists" and the site just went live March 1. It's a collection of women photographed as warriors, ready to fight for what they believe in. It's very much in contrast to the women you see on the covers of the rag mags in grocery stores.

DN: Was it planned to have both the tour and project start at the same time?

LB: It just kind of happened that way. We did the cover art for the album and it got me thinking about doing the project. I feel weird about being the author, because it doesn't belong to me it belongs to everyone.

I also think it comes at a very important time and we've gotten great feedback so far. It's great to see that people are touched by the idea, and that it's an opportunity to pay tribute to powerful women in their communities.

If you go:

The Mynabirds w/ Sons of 76, The Sleepover

When: Tuesday, 10 p.m.

Where: Zoo Bar, 136 N. 14 St.

How much: $8


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