Mirah – Advisory Committee
Acquired: End of an Ear, Austin, TX, New, 2008
I can't believe this came out in 2001. It could have come out in 2009 and still sounded just as good, fresh, and original. This and C'mon Miracle are a pair of masterpieces. Man, there is a lot to cram in this post. There's how I adore Mirah and she was my all-star indie rock crush until I found out she was a Lesbian. She was still my crush, don't get me wrong, but that just kind of crushed my dreams. She's super sweet, too. I got to interview her for KJHK earlier this year and she was calling from her backyard in Portland and I was jealous. I imagined her very 1950s. Polkadot swimsuit, drink with an umbrella, big sunglasses on a reclining lawn chair with a kiddie pool and a picket fence. Then I got to see her play at SXSW and she was amazing and played “Cold Cold Water,” which might bet the best song she's ever written. This record is amazing, did I say that already? This is a jab at every other female singer-songwriter, in my head. The 00s was rife with singer-songwriters, and they all sounded the same. There were a lot of dudes and a lot of chicks with guitars and most of them were lame. There are rare exceptions, though. Bon Iver came along late in the decade and proved to be perhaps the best male singer-songwriter since Elliott Smith. Mirah is the reigning queen, in my book, because not only are her songs sonically diverse, but she's got Phil Elverum in her corner, and he takes Mirah's already excellent songs and puts touches on them that make them absolutely outstanding. The way he can make an acoustic guitar sound alone is jawdropping. Just listen to the Phil E. guitar sound on the gorgeous stand-out “Mt. St. Helens.” The way that song evolves, builds, breaks down on and off. The music itself is enough to hark genius. She could be singing the dictionary for all I care, but no, she doesn't. She's breaking my heart. Breaking the song down to sing lines like “I could never be your friend/I could never come back home again.” And right after that comes the drum machine and repeteating synth of “Recommendation,” one of my ultimate kiss-off songs. I listened to this one a LOT last year. The sentiment is this: Fuck you, please come back. It's how normal people feel. It's short and sweet, like you've approached that person and said “I just wanna say one thing.” The blending of acoustic instruments and electronics is masterful and somehow prescient of the coming electro-pop renaissance that would come about five years after this record dropped. “Recommendation” is playful with it, but “Body Below” is a subtler example of this electro-pop thing. For one, you can't really tell because it feels so warm, and it's hard to make synths warm. Phil Elverum's masterstroke has been harnessing this warmth in music. His records with the Microphones and Mount Eerie are perfect examples of this, but his work here is just gorgeous. This came up in the collection at the perfect time, as I'm covering the Mirah show at the Jackpot on Saturday and instead of being regular stoked I am now SUPER STOKED.
Here's a photo of the time I saw Mirah. I have a lil' vid of "Cold Cold Water" from this show, but it's somewhere else. Me and Steve from Team Clermont spent most of the show telling me I should just ask her out.
Also, check this shit out! Someone has outdone themselves!