Lines of Flight: The Mynabirds on the Roof

The rooftop bar feels as intimate as the 9:30 Club felt epic. Laura hops off the stage for a song, tambourine in hand, and the room is all smiles as the audience dances along. Songs like “Generals” and “Body of Work” take on a different patina with the Washington Monument in the backdrop, red lights in a metronomic throb.

This is the second of a two-part photo journal of The Mynabirds. Click here for pics + reflections from their 9:30 Club show with The Pixies.

soundcheck at the W June 1, 2015. DC is known for swampy summers, and June weather enters on cue, pressing against us with its fleshy heat. All day, the air is thick with the threat of thunder. On the way to the W Washington, I’m caught in a downpour of what feels like monsoon proportions.

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Lines of Flight: The Mynabirds at the 9:30 Club


Take equal measures of existentialist musings and political smarts and a voice that hums and crackles in alternating currents of vulnerability, whimsy, and ferociousness, and you get The Mynabirds: a mingling of piano, organ, synths, electric guitars, horns, drums — sometimes danceable, other times hymnal amalgams of melody and rhythm, with singer-pianist Laura Burhenn’s distinctive, arresting vocals at the center of it all. The pop shimmer draws you in. The gritty, soulful depths invite you to linger and explore.

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The Mynabirds: This Will Be Our Year


Last night, I was battling insomnia by cycling through covers of “This Will Be Our Year,” including an OK Go version that I absolutely loved in college (it was the lead song on’s Future Soundtrack for America). And then of course there’s the Foo Fighters’ version.

By the grace of the chance encounters in life, I was introduced just today to The Mynabirds’ cover of The Zombies song. Laura Burhenn (of Bright Eyes and Postal Service) sings with a sweetness that is subdued, not saccharine. The pedal steel, played by J. Tom Hnatow (of These United States and Vandaveer), add these subtle shifts of hue — I can’t quite explain why, but for me, it conjures up J.M.W. Turner’s painting of Ulysses’s ship on the open seas. The oars slice through dark waters, bearing the men away from the cyclops’ caves. On the horizon, Apollo’s horses rise, sunshine on their backs. Those gradients of color, those brushstrokes that communicate that dawn is breaking — that’s what this song sounds like.

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