Thao & Mirah

Better Late Than Never: Thao and Mirah @ The Black Cat 6/10/11

I live my life with low-grade anxiety, one I suspect I share with lots of music fans—those of us with more interest in music than time in the day to pursue it.  I’m anxious that there’s a band out there that I need to be listening to but am not.  One that would occupy a very special space in my life if only I’d heard it.  And unlike many of my other anxieties, this one has been validated.  How, for example, is it that Thao and the Get Down Stay Down’s first album, We Brave Bee Stings and All, had been out for nearly two years before I’d even heard of the band?  (Hat tip to the good people at All Songs Considered for clueing me in, thereby further proving that I am, in fact, a demographic stereotype.)

Thao’s blend of percussive indie-pop with smart lyrics – coying at times, biting at others—buried into my head from the first listen and hasn’t left.  So it was with great excitement that I tore into the album that Thao put out with collaborator Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn earlier this year.  That self-titled album proved an exhilarating, if somewhat disjointed, affair.  (Read Kevin’s review here)

Having never seen either artist live, it was with even greater excitement that I headed to the Black Cat last Friday to check out their show.  From song one the duo came out swinging...


Review: Thao & Mirah (self titled)

Careening from freak folk to R&B to funk and back again, Thao (Nguyen of Thao with the Get Down Stay Down) and Mirah (Yom Tov Zeitlyn) have crafted an album that is deeply listenable despite itself. If you think that the opening Merrill Garbus (aka tUnE yArDs) produced track Eleven would set the tone of the album, you’d be as wrong as you are right. As soon as that explosion of everything-going-on-at-once-but-it-still-makes-sense ends, the duo launches into Folks, which is exactly what you think it is …a folk song.

That back and forth runs the course of the record and as a result, the whole thing doesn’t come together as a cohesive unit as well as one would want it to. But who cares about the sum when the individual parts are this good? Rubies and Rock sports an ominous yet danceable groove that you would expect to find in the top 40. And that’s before the horns come. The very next track, Teeth, seemingly abandons the pop polish in favor of a lo-fi sound full of hand /knee claps. But by the time it has built to the chorus of ”Next time I swear more hope less fail,” the song has managed to erupt  all over the place with a giant swell of strings, timpani’s and voices joining in to drive the heartache of this breakup song home.


Daily Listen: Thao & Mirah - Hallelujah

Not sure why this is the record you should be buying this week? Give this track a listen and it will be clear. This is one of the more straightforward tracks on the record but it hightlights the fact that underneath all the weird soul revivals and beats gone wrong there is some real songwriting talent powering this record.

 

Thao & Mirah - Hallelujah


New Releases 4.26.1 - Drugs are bad kidz


 

As we roll further on towards Summer, this week shaped up to be a little bit better than the last Explosions in the Sky a have a new record out which is always (usually) a good thing. The band Times New Viking puts out Dancer Equired this Tuesday which is pretty fun. I'm new to that band, but so far what I've heard has been pretty damn good, so definitely check that out. The clear winner for me though this week is the new release from Thao & Mirah, which is just...well...it's good. Really good.