Anyone who knows the first thing about me — or at least is a keen-eyed blog reader — will know I’m a big fan of the bands on Seattle’s Barsuk Records and Omaha’s Saddle Creek. It tickles my fancy to know that there’s been a fair bit of interplay between the two bands, from common tours to bands jumping from one label to the other (*ahem* I’m looking at you, Rilo Kiley). Although I hadn’t gotten around to checking out The Mynabirds, I had heard good things about front woman Laura Burhenn‘s previous act, Georgie James. Seeing as they were opening for Barsuk’s David Bazan on his fall 2010 tour, I figured that would be a good a time as any to get myself acquainted with her and her new band.
The first thing worth noting is that The Mynabirds has a very Saddle Creek sound. If they weren’t already signed to the label, I would have left Lee’s Palace that night saying to myself, “Hey! You know what record label would love to sign them?…” If you’re not familiar with “the Saddle Creek sound”, it’s a very alt-country-tinged indie rock popularized by such internationally recognized indie superstars as Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes, etc.). The Mynabirds places a stronger emphasis on vocal delivery, especially harmonies, and have noticeably heavier and more complex bass lines that propel the songs into a heavier territory than the genre’s norm.
I’m not totally convinced I was the only one completely unfamiliar with the band before this set; the band took the stage to an awkward, ambivalent silence that Toronto crowds are notorious for. After opening with their not-quite title track from the spring’s What We Lost In The Fire We Gained In The Flood, the crowd was quick to warm up to them and the attention and appreciation continued to grow throughout the evening. The band’s set was consistently solid, and although there was no one or two songs that stood out head and shoulders above the rest as a set highlight, at no point in the set was I left twiddling my fingers and looking at my watch. In and of itself, that’s a fair (albeit unintentionally backhanded) compliment as the show didn’t even start until the time headliners usually take the stage (around 10:20pm), well after the door time and approaching my “I Work Sunday Morning So I Sleep Early Saturday Evening” bedtime. Late shows are not friends to people who live in the far reaches of the city’s sprawling suburbs and count on public transit to get them home, but an entertaining set by the The Mynabirds and a phenomenal performance by David Bazan’s band made my early morning’s subway troubles worthwhile.
As mentioned in the blog for the David Bazan blog for the headlining set, my usual microphones were out of commission for the evening, and I relied on the internal built-in mics on the Edirol R-09hr to capture the evening’s performances. The recorder was placed directly atop the subs on the right stack, with some knick knack padding underneath to absorb excess vibrations. The experiment wasn’t a total success as the recording still came out rather bass heavy, and although my EQ of the tape tones it down significantly, it still has a bit of a THUMP to it. But the proof is in the pudding, so give the tape a sample below. If you enjoy, you are always more than welcome to help yourself to the usual offering of MP3 and FLAC downloads.
02. What We Gained In The Fire
03. LA Rain
04. Wash It Out
05. Give It Time
07. Numbers Don’t Lie
08. Ways of Looking
09. Right Place
10. We Made A Mountain
Thanks to Mynabirds, David Bazan, Lee’s Palace and both Saddle Creek and Barsuk Records.