PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

The Mynabirds: Be Here Now

Publicity photo via Bandcamp

The mix of force and sensitivity makes it a valuable statement in a difficult time.


The Mynabirds

Be Here Now

Label: Saddle Creek
US Release Date: 2017-08-25
UK Release Date: 2017-08-25
Amazon
iTunes

Laura Burhenn, the force behind the Mynabirds, has turned political before (on 2012's Generals), but her new album feels different. Be Here Now came together in just a couple weeks of recording after this year's presidential inauguration and the next day's Women's March in Washington, DC. Burhenn had plenty to say, and she got it down quickly. This summer, the album came out as a series of EPs before being properly collected in its full format. While the scattershot feel of the release diminishes its effectiveness a bit, the mix of force and sensitivity makes it a valuable statement in a difficult time.

Listening in central Virginia during mid-August 2017 will naturally draw “Golden Age” to the center of the experience (although, to be fair, listening in mid-July brought it forward as a similar highlight). The steady, controlled song finds stability in Burhenn's perseverance. “Golden Age” doesn't rally supporters; it maintains its space. But a single sequence will resonate after recent events:

My heart's full of love

And all kinds of peace

But I think even I

Could punch a Nazi

In the face.

The line gets to the heart of Burhenn's work. She's not advocating violence; in the context of the rest of the song, the conflict in the line comes out. Yet seeking for peace in a dangerous world doesn't always result in the hum of meditations. Other feelings flicker, and honest recognition of them reveals something.

Even if Burhenn isn't looking to throw punches, she's not in favor of sitting back and waiting for moral justice to work itself out. Opener “Be Here Now” calls listeners to unity, providing the album's anthemic core. When she sings, “Everybody stand together / Everybody stand your ground,” she shows her stance of resistance. There's a community that she wants to gather. It's one that can “sing real loud” and stand shoulder to shoulder, drawing strength from each other.

The statements themselves each work, but the music's shifts can be odd. Burhenn may have Bowie in mind in her approach to the disc, but her changes from torch singer to new wave to indie pop to '80s pop and so on don't quite cohere. It fits the burst of thought and emotion that drive the record, and it allows her to do something complex, but the seams show. The Mynabirds' last release showed Burhenn to be a “Wildfire", an artist in energetic exploration, and that excitement continues here, even if it doesn't succeed as much.

The key pieces of the album -- “Be Here Now”, “Golden Age”, and “Shouting at the Dark” -- are important works delivered at just the right time. Burhenn's a vital artist with much on her mind and array of styles at her command. In that sense, Be Here Now builds on her career-long work of thinking both personally and politically, of both controlling and unleashing her strength. That approach also reveals itself as just a bit of weakness here, but Burhenn's welcoming personality and willingness to simultaneously dance and resist prove enough to carry the disc (and possibly the day).

6

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.