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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Mirah

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.

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Two to Tango: Mirah and Sammus

Mirah, Sammus
Mirah | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist // Sammus | photo by Zooloo Brown | courtesy of the artist

Brooklyn-based (but Philadelphia born) Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn would seem radically different from the Ithaca-raised, Philadelphia-based SAMMUS (Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo) at first, with one playing askew folk pop and the other hip hop. Yet, both women keep their musical and melodic processes raw, and both lyricist/vocalist/rappers are emotive, clever and cutting in a fashion that you may not recognize until after the song or the set is over. The subtle glories of Mirah and SAMMUS sneak up you – as you shall find when the make a tour stop at Johnny Brenda’s tonight.

This interview was conducted late this week, via email, and sadly SAMMUS fell off the email chain, but I think the essence of the “tango” is still shared between these two women. Continue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs from Dizzy, Mitski, Mirah, Tirzah, Jake Shears and Years & Years, and more

Mitski
Mitski | photo by Bao Ngo | courtesy of the artist

Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.

Alright, here we go: it’s prime time! Besides bringing with it probably the most satisfyingly distinct, decisive seasonal shift of them all – both meteorologically and culturally – September is reliably one of the biggest and busiest months for new music releases. And this year is no exception: every Friday this month is marked by a veritable embarrassment of riches, with plenty of big names and lots more worthy lesser-knowns in danger of being overshadowed. I’ll do my best to sift through the glut of goodness and report back to you next month – I’m only the scraping the surface of September’s bounty in the selections below, many of which date from later August. This month’s trawl, meanwhile, brings us a mixture of autumn-ready atmospherics and last-gasp-of-summer throwback vibes (keep ‘em handy, though; it’s bound to heat up again for at least a minute.) In approximate sequence, you’ll find: a bevy of single-named singer-songwriter beauties, some slinky mood jams of varying degrees of oddness, a trio of big, bold, brazenly gay pop bangers, and a bit of truly bizarro R&B. NB: Over half of the featured artists also have upcoming Philly concert dates! Continue reading →

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Listen to Mirah ride the waves of love in “Ordinary Day,” from new LP Understanding

Mirah | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist

Before Mirah releases Understanding, her first album in four years, next week, she’s shared another single from the record with BrooklynVegan. “Ordinary Day” is the fourth song the Pennsylvania-rooted, New York-based songwriter has shared from the forthcoming album, which will be released September 7 on her own label, Absolute Magnitude Recordings. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Mirah will bring Understanding to Johnny Brenda’s

Mirah | photo by Emily Zeitlyn | courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia-born but Brooklyn-based musician Mirah will return to her first hometown this fall for a show at Johnny Brenda’s on October 13, touring behind the release of her forthcoming sixth LP Understanding. She’s been writing, recording and touring for over 20 years now, and various iterations of her music have seen her span personas from acoustic singer/songwriter to experimental pop artist and everything in between. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Mirah at Boot & Saddle, Sea Offs at The Barbary, Rhiannon Giddens at World Cafe Live

mirah
Mirah | photo courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia-born musician Mirah returns to her hometown for a show at Boot & Saddle tonight. She brings with her a catalog of effervescent pop jems, like those found on 2014’s Changing Light – her most recent release. Watch “No Direction Home” from that LP below and pick up tickets for the 21+ show here.

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Just Announced: Mirah to headline ACLU Benefit Concert at Bethlehem Library

As much as I love libraries, I can admit that they’re usually not the most hip and happening places around. The Bethlehem Area Public Library and Tape Swap Radio are working to change that and this Friday, February 24th, indie folk pop phenom Mirah will headline an ACLU benefit concert amongst rows of literature in the newly renovated first floor of the Bethlehem Library. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Mirah at Johnny Brenda’s, John Legend at Verizon Hall, Helms Alee at Boot and Saddle

Mirah | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Mirah | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Fresh off her On the Hill Series session, Philly-born Portland-based acoustic singer/songwriter, Mirah, will play Johnny Brenda’s tonight. Her latest album, Changing Light, was released on May 13 via Absolute Magnitude.  You can find more info and tickets for the show here; below, revisit “Cold Cold Water” from her second LP Advisory Committee.

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Mirah performs two haunting new tracks for On the Hill Session

mirah1
Mirah | photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Prolific acoustic singer/songwriter and indie rock mastermind Mirah performed two new tracks for Kettle Pot Track’s On the Hill Series session last week. The songs come from her most recent album Changing Light, released May 13 via Absolute Magnitude. The Philadelphia-area native kept the studio session simple yet powerful, playing “Gold Rush” and “Fleetfoot Ghost”, with Mirah’s acoustic guitar stylings accompanied by violin and drums for added oomph. Her tempered yet heart-penetrating vocals carry the tracks all the way through. Mirah performs at Johnny Brenda’s tomorrow, May 20 at 8pm. Get tickets for the show here. The vinyl of Changing Light will be released June 24, you can pre-order it here. Watch the On the Hill Session below.

Mirah — Gold Rush from Michael Batchelor on Vimeo.

Mirah — Fleetfoot Ghost from Michael Batchelor on Vimeo.

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From Mirah’s eclectic brew to Divers’ phenomenal rock, the Zeitlyn sisters livened up Boot and Saddle

Mirah | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Mirah | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Lush harmonies. Equal parts folk and rock. Nature, justice, and the fire and ice of relationships. Mirah melded these qualities into a glorious brew in a return to her hometown on Saturday at Boot & Saddle. The sold-out crowd was treated to a 16-song trip through her career. Mirah showcased many highs from her recorded and live existence, from the opening selection of the chilling “Bones & Skin” and the lovely cover of Old Time Relijun’s “Lion Tamer” to the South American sounds flowing through “The Dogs of B.A.”

(See More – Mirah and Mount Moriah at Johnny Brenda’s)

Backed by the strings and keys of L. Alex Guy (aka Led to Sea) and percussionist Andrew Maguire, Mirah also unveiled some songs from her forthcoming record. With a few understandable hiccups that come with performing new work, the new pieces stand tall next to the rest of her oeuvre. The high point of the new is a song Mirah said was inspired by seeing Leonard Cohen in New Zealand. Co-written with her sister, Emily Ana Zeitlyn, the track, titled “L.C.” on the handwritten setlist, features dual harmonies and thematic elements similar to some of Cohen’s most well-known work.

The main set closed with the powerful “Mt. St. Helens” and Mirah and company followed it with the joyous encore of “Words Cannot Describe.” Dancing around the stage with Guy on drums and Maguire on vibraphone, Mirah left the stage after giving the crowd what they wanted: her in every desired musical form. Smiles and applause were bountiful, indicating another homecoming cannot come soon enough.

(Hear More – The Key Studio Sessions: Divers)

The show was billed as a “Too Many Zeitlyns Are Never Enough” showcase, since Divers – the raw Philly trio fronted by the aforementioned Emily – performed a phenomenal opening set of rock and roll. Check out photos from the night in the gallery below, and read Mirah’s setlist after the jump.

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