Preview: Mynabirds_lowres


Origin stories don't get more original than the Mynabirds'. It involves two former lives: one directly related, as in Laura Burhenn's previous band, the Washington, D.C., pop duo Georgie James; and one Shirley MacLained, the 1960s Motown not-so-supergroup The Mynah Birds, whose rotation included Buffalo Springfield's Neil Young and Bruce Palmer and Steppenwolf's Nick St. Nicholas and Goldy McJohn, and whose only recording was abandoned when its singer — one Rick James, 15 years pre-"Super Freak"-out — was arrested for going AWOL on the U.S. Navy. Out of this jumbled wreckage of memory and imagination, Burhenn salvaged something worth saving. Her 2010 debut What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood wed reincarnated torch-lit piano ballads — as Jameses and Springfields go, more Georgie and Dusty than Rick and Buffalo — to the unfussy, dignified production of collaborator/engineer Richard Swift (The Shins). Released in April, their second project Generals (Saddle Creek) is firmly rooted in the present, even as it reaches back to themes of women and wars past. (The LP springs from an upending 1963 photo by Richard Avedon, "The Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution," and has an accompanying website, After a side one front-loaded with beat-nicked messages ("Wolf Mother," "Radiator Sister"), Burhenn and Swift get under the skin of the melodically dominated side two: Closing trio "Disarm," "Buffalo Flower" and "Greatest Revenge" mark a delicate succession of swaying pop Jenga, while "Body of Work" stomps and claps out a mission statement by Jean-Paul Sartre ("Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you"). Rick James' Mynah Birds left behind two great songs, "Go On and Cry" and "It's My Time." On two albums, Burhenn's Mynabirds take those declarations and fly with them. Deep Time and Saint Bell open. Tickets $10. — Noah Bonaparte Pais