Saddle Creek | The Mynabirds | Reviews



Author: Zach Long
06/20/2012 | Time Out Chicago | | Live Show Preview
It's easy to find a singer who can carry a tune, but it's uncommon to witness a singer who can almost single-handedly propel an entire set. The Mynabirds' Laura Burhenn is that kind of songstress, effortlessly exact in her pitch-perfect delivery. It certainly helps that the songs come with a palpable sense of personal significance, culled from the group's latest release, entitled Generals, which finds Burhenn searching for hope amidst profound political frustration. It's a jarring departure from the band's 2010 debut What We Lost in the Fire We Gain in the Flood, which channeled soulful undertones to explore life after loss.

Following a brief but intriguing reggae-inflected set from Brooklyn's Sean Bones, Burhenn took the stage, resplendent in a fox headdress and backed by a four-piece band. Perched slightly above the rest of the group on a small pedestal, the songwriter opened with "Karma Debt," passionately belting out the track's wishful refrain of "I'd give it all for a legacy of love." The percussive bent of songs like "Radiator Sister" and "Disaster" were similarly earnest, set against a din of staccato keys and growling guitar riffs.

Though she was undoubtably the center of attention, Burhenn wasn't the evening's sole star. Back-up vocalist Rebecca Miller's pristine harmonies permeated the set, but nowhere were they more impressive than on "Mightier Than the Sword," which found the singer crafting a sonic bed with deftly layered vocal loops. By the time the band reached the militaristic, shout-along refrains of lead-single "Generals," the crowd was more than willing to oblige. "Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you," Burhenn intoned against the effervescent beats of closing track "Body of Work." Defying expectations, the Mynabirds' upbeat odes seemed to exemplify a creative freedom that relished in its unpredictability. Raging against the machine rarely sounds so irresistibly catchy.


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