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EVENINGS OUT

 

 

Evenings Out
June 29, 2007

You think she's like this but really she's like this

Creative and daring indie rocker from Washington unleashes a new album and tour

Indie rock darling Mirah is back with a new album, a collaboration with two members of the Black Cat Orchestra evoking an array of styles from traditional British folk music to Siouxsie and the Banshees.

A new album is one thing. Seeing her live, however, is another thing entirely, and she has two upcoming dates in Ohio, one in Columbus followed days later by a stop in Cleveland.

Share This Place: Stories and Observations by Mirah and Spectratone International is far from the first “experimental” effort from Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn, who burst from the scene in the Northwest in 1997 with her first release, an EP called Storageland on Yoyo Records, after performing with the Microphones on a couple of albums.

After that, she jumped to K Records, where she released her first full-length, You Think It’s Like This But Really It’s Like This, in 2000, followed by the 2001 release Advisory Committee.

Two years later, she tried her first experimental project, Songs From the Black Mountain Music Project, a collaboration with Ginger Brooks Takahashi. The duo locked themselves away while working on the album, toiling in seclusion.

She followed that with To All We Stretch the Open Arm, a collaboration with Kyle Hanson and Lori Goldston, the members of the Black Cat Orchestra with whom she made Share This Place.

To All was an anti-war cover album, featuring the works of Kurt Weill, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and others.

She then released another solo album, following it up with a collection of remixes from throughout her solo discography.

The new album reunites her with Goldston and Hanson, calling themselves Spectratone International. Joining them in Spectratone are Jane Hall on percussion and Kane Mathis playing the oud, a type of lute from the Middle East.

The album comprises the score of a suite of short animated films by Britta Johnson. Credo Cigalia is included on the disc as a Quicktime file, enabling fans to see what the music connects to, visually.

While the conceit makes the songs a little harder to relate to than her earlier work, once they are taken in the context of being a score or soundtrack, it explains the disjointed nature of some of the music and why there are such different auditory aesthetics from track to track.

While Mirah, like a number of other incredible indie artists, is seemingly constantly poised to become the “next big thing,” she’s rather blasé about the possibility. Much like many indie-rock fans, she likes her stars flying just under the mainstream pop radar.

“Honestly, I'm just as much a culprit of it as the next guy,” she said in a 2004 interview with Downhillbattle.org, a music and activism website. “I liked the White Stripes too, saw them in Oly [Olympia, Washington] a couple times, thought they were really good and then what happened?”

“I heard their video was really neat and I bet I'd like their new album but it's just not as interesting to me to be interested anymore,” she continued. “The popular kids are annoying because they used to be just like you and you maybe admire something about them but that's a total secret and so you have to dislike them instead and who wants that syndrome to destroy the precious relationship you have with your secret music love?”

“I'm not condoning this weird psychology but I've never tried to kick the habit either. Maybe we all need some kind of therapeutic process so we can just get over it and revel in the popularizing instead of the disappointment in all that we believe is truly good and deserving of praise,” she concluded.

So audiences should love her now but get prepared to hate her because they love her so much but if she ever gets really, really popular they’ll have to hide their affection for her.

I think.

Regardless of the twisted psychology of the last few paragraphs, she will be playing in Columbus on July 15, and then in Cleveland on July 19. She’ll have a back-up band both nights, but it will not be Spectratone International, so it’s not really clear how much of the new album she will play, or if she will stick mainly to her previous efforts.

Either way, both shows should be amazing.

The July 15 show in Columbus will be at the performance space in the Wexner Center for the Arts, North High Street at 15th Avenue, at 8 pm. Tickets are $10, available at www.wexarts.org.

The Cleveland show on July 19 will be at 9 pm in the Beachland Ballroom and tickets are $12. The Beachland is at 15711 Waterloo Rd in Cleveland. For tickets, go to www.beachlandballroom.com.

Laura Veirs is opening for Mirah on both dates, and the Cleveland show also features Expecting Rain.

 

 

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