Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Mirah

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Mirah | Photo by Eric Schuman for XPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is an artist with a celebrated and ever-evolving approach to songwriting. Though she was born here in Philadelphia, Mirah Zeitlyn is most closely connected to the music scenes of Olympia, Washington (and, more specifically, the venerated K Records label) and New York City. Over the course of the last decade, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Mirah perform her one-of-a-kind compositions in a variety of configurations. There was the live presentation of her insect-focused song cycle Share This Place, a collaboration with the Spectratone International string section, that featured stop motion creepy-crawlies projected above the stage. In 2011, Mirah teamed up with Thao Nguyen of the Get Down Stay Down for a co-headlining album (and memorable World Cafe session). This time around, Mirah brought two of the versatile musicians that appear on her new album, Understanding, bassist Maia Macdonald and drummer Andrew Maguire, to perform a set of new songs in our studio.


Our session with Mirah begins with a performance of “Counting,” which also acts as the album’s opening scene-setter. Mirah and Maia’s hushed vocals deliver a vision of a near apocalyptic world with “no rules left/no room left,” while Andrew conjures otherworldly sounds using cymbal scrapes and a hollow length of corrugated plastic called a whirly tube. Next is “Information,” which addresses the walled-in echo chambers that we build around ourselves online. A gentle verse gives way to a thunderous chorus and cathartic coda. The idea of nature outlasting humanity is a recurring theme in Mirah’s music, one she revisits on the next song, “Sundial.” Closing out the session is a masterful performance of the epic “Energy.” Part lullaby, part hymn, part anthem, the song arcs into a thrilling second half while Mirah ruminates on those who helped her get to where she is today.

Listen to Mirah’s Indie Rock Hit Parade session below and check out some photos from the studio…

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