Song of the Day: The Mynabirds – Shouting at the Dark

Photo by Alysse Gafkjen

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on The Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Shouting at the Dark” by The Mynabirds from the 2017 album BE HERE NOW from Omaha’s Saddle Creek Records.

The Mynabirds – Shouting at the Dark (MP3)
Laura Burhenn, mastermind behind her indie pop-rock outfit The Mynabirds, is an explosion of electrified energy. The LA-based songstress uses her sultry-lush voice and she-shreds dignity to elate her audience with both socio-conscious piano ballads and synth-throbbing anthems. She’s a nuanced powerhouse. In 2013, she led a TED talk on “New Revolutionaries” on being a radical mover-and-shaker as a woman in today’s circus, she played in KEXP’s studios back in 2015, and then Concerts at the Mural in 2016. In 2017, she graces us with The Mynabirds’ fourth album BE HERE NOW, inspired by her Buddhist practices. The album was written and recorded in the two weeks following the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. The slow-jamming title track was inspired by her drummer Nicole Childrey stating that the best party she had been to was the women’s rally.

This collection of come-hell-or-high-water hits features a variety of talents such as the McCrary Sisters (toured with Bob Dylan back in the day) and a Burundi refugee choir — both of whom she speaks of very highly. The album was recorded at collaborator and producer Patrick Damphier’s Nashville studio, which sadly he got priced out of so that made BE HERE NOW its quietus. Burhenn released a (nerd alert!) BE HERE NOW: Behind the Album on Spotify, where she takes time to do a track-by-track debrief, which is very interesting and highly recommended. Her speaking voice and calm articulation make you want to listen to her talk for hours.

Laura Burhenn describes her more feel-good title track “Be Here Now” as a protest song in the sense of not letting anyone steal her joy, however, “Shouting at the Dark” is an outright protest. The tones are bright and shimmering. The attack is atmospheric and washes over you. And the more instrumentally sparse sections are enlivened with neck-sliding low end. Introduced with trance-like swirling guitar-monies “I’d rather have cuts on my knees then blood in my mouth / from biting my tongue and keeping it down” is how the track immediately draws you in. The roughly four-minutes of euphoria can be attributed to the sea of chord-sustaining synths, twinkling of dueling guitar riffs, and, again, Burhenn’s sultry-lush pipes. In the podcast-y Behind the Album segment for ‘Shouting at the Dark” she questions her artistic impact of whether or not her efforts are turning the political needle back in the right direction. She also compares herself to “Sisyphus carrying that rock up the mountain…never giving up.” It’s safe to say that “Shouting at the Dark” is subversive incantation to cast a spell on whoever she needs.

The Mynabirds don’t currently have any shows, but check out their Facebook page for upcoming news and their website for merch, writings, and photos by the members. While you’re in the Mynabird mood, watch the music video for their elegant song “Golden Age” — also off BE HERE NOW — below.

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