Thao & Mirah

Thao & Mirah

by Thao & Mirah


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Thao & Mirah

For a collaboration between a couple of noted songwriters, it's striking that the songs are often the least interesting thing about Thao & Mirah. There are a handful which stand out on their own merits -- Thao Nguyen's singsongy "How Dare You," an R&B-tinged call-and-response that's the only proper duet here; Mirah Zeitlyn's characteristically hushed, thoughtful "Hallelujah," which dares to brush against the deathless Leonard Cohen classic and fares impressively well, considering. But by and large, the album is more notable and enjoyable as an exploration of sounds and textures (both instrumental and vocal) than as a collection of melodies and lyrics. The tip-off comes early, with the joyfully dense, clattering opener "Eleven," an energetic if loosely structured three-way collision with Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, who provides not only the simple, lusty vocal hook (tellingly, and perhaps a little troublingly, the most memorable one here) but also a hefty dose of her band's percussion-heavy, chant-friendly, loopy D.I.Y. spirit. Garbus also co-produced the album and contributes instrumentally or vocally to all but one song (that's two more than Nguyen, who sits out on three of Zeitlyn's five solo compositions), and it's tempting to imagine what they might work up together as a fully collaborative trio -- Mirah, Thao & Merrill, which might have been a more accurate title here anyway. Nothing else bears Garbus' influence quite so overtly, though it's not hard to hear her fingerprints on, for instance, Zeitlyn's breathily sultry "Rubies and Rocks," whose simmering, Afro-tinged groove and swirling horn riffs eventually develop into a full-on jazz-funk blowout. Of course, there's also plenty of room for the distinct and notably divergent voices of the much-loved marquee duo. And they manage a more successful and satisfying merger than on their previous collaborative venture, a joint 2010 tour wherein Thao's livelier, rockier numbers alternated incongruously and sometimes disruptively with Mirah's softer acoustic folk. Here the pair find a wide-ranging middle ground, with some fruitful artistic stretching on both sides -- Thao trading rangy rock for tender prettiness on "Teeth" and "Folks" (but letting it out on the scrappy, screwball slide-fest "Squareneck"); Mirah taking a playfully bluesy turn on "Sugar and Plastic" (and saving her habitual solemnity for the oddly humorless sci-fi oddity "Spaced Out Orbit" ). It's not an especially coherent album, nor a very revealing one, offering surprisingly little insight into {|Thao & Mirah">Thao & Mirah">{|Thao & Mirah's relationship either as musical or romantic partners. But it does sound like they're having fun, and that counts for a good deal.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/26/2011
Label: Kill Rock Stars
UPC: 0759656053822
catalogNumber: 538
Rank: 314448

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Thao & Mirah   Primary Artist
John Vanderslice   Background Vocals
Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Percussion,Bass Drums,Marimbas,Vocals,Background Vocals,Hand Clapping,Foot Stomping,Echo Harp,Floor Tom,Guitar (Nylon String)
Eli Crews   Human Whistle,Upright Bass,Echoplex
Dina Maccabee   Viola
Darren Johnston   Trumpet
Thao Nguyen   Acoustic Guitar,Percussion,Drums,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Surdo
Matt Nelson   Saxophone
Merrill Garbus   Percussion,Cymbals,Drums,Tambourine,Vocals,Background Vocals,Hand Clapping,Vocal Percussion,Hi Hat
Ezra Lipp   Percussion,Conga,Shaker
Kacey Johansing   Background Vocals
Emily Ritz   Background Vocals
Nate Brenner   Electric Bass,Upright Bass
Dan Maccabee   Viola
Jamie Riotto   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn   Composer,Producer
Eli Crews   Engineer,Feedback
Jay Pellicci   Engineer
Thao Nguyen   Composer,Producer
Merrill Garbus   Composer,Producer,beats
James Squeaky   Layout
Benjamin Parrish   Layout
Forrest Martin   Layout

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