Review : Mirah - The Old Days Feeling
PitchforkFans and critics have long struggled with favorite artists maturing, but Portland singer-songwriter Mirah has traced a mostly upward trajectory with all manner of aging-artist-things: increasingly assured vocals, more poetic and less overtly personal lyrics, moving the studio out of the bedroom, a remix album. The granddaddy of them all, 2007's Share This Place: Stories and Observations, was a publicly commissioned multimedia art project recorded with orchestral ensemble Spectratone International, single-handedly covering nearly 19 maturing stereotypes. The Old Days Feeling, then, is appropriately named: an odds and sods collection of obscure material that hews closest to the tumultuous, typically K Records sounds of her debut, You Think It's Like This But Really It's Like This.
Of course, as anyone familiar with the debut knows, Mirah uses her bedroom for more than a studio, and her funny, brash, coffeehouse (no pejorative) sexuality is a theme throughout Old Days. Mirah's pillow/microphone talk isn't shockingly explicit so much as refreshingly direct: "Hey how 'bout some of that lubrication?/ 'Cause this motor's getting ready for some fornication" stands out during "Dreamboat", but feel free to apply your most "That's what she said"-inspiring interpretations to lines like "you're as big as Texas" and "take me out riding." Mirah examines how sex changes relationships, so while the latter part of a line like "what ever happened to the sweet young chick/ Who fell for the babe with the strap-on prick" um, pricks ears, "What happened?" is the substantive sentiment. "Lone Star", though nominally about a large penis, sees Mirah willing to fall for anyone who "drops his pants" but then "drops out of school." ...full text
Prefix MagazineWith an array of styles ranging from high lonesome country to post-rock to some kind of child-like cooing, The Old Days Feeling collects unreleased and older material by the Washington-based singer Mirah. And for the most part, she maintains an edge that gives these tracks their power. They are intimate without being abstract, fun without being smug.
Her take on pop is jarring, using its melodic focus and adding in disorienting vocals and musical tangents that move the tunes far beyond pop.
Tiny Mix TapesIt’s a sometimes efficient, sometimes slapdash way of judging an artist’s work: by association. I have always (in my only minimal listening to Mirah in the past) kept her, in my mind, in close proximity with Phil Elverum. She’s his right-hand lady, right? She is, like, the female Mount Eerie — the Playskool Microphones, if you will. Where Phil Elverum has become the consummate no-nonsense nature and spirit missionary, Mirah recalls his more twee, comedic, prior self.
I’d like to think this is a pretty valid assumption I’ve concocted in my skull. The Old Days Feeling arrives as I’d expect it to, even with its status as a “collection.” We have that signature Dub Narcotic Studio intimacy. We have the tender and twee moments of silly sex. We have bedroom recordings, recordings spanning the career, and collaborative recordings. It’s a nice compilation, resting on the fact that it doesn’t feel like a compilation.
PopMattersMirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn – better known as merely Mirah – has become a familiar name to those who’ve followed the Northwestern music scene since the early 2000s. Besides work with Phil Elvrum (Mr. Eerie/the Microphones), the Black Cat Orchestra, and Ginger Brooks Takahashi, each of Mirah’s three solo albums has received a warm critical reception, even if she hasn’t been embraced enough by the larger indie pop listening audience. This has always been a shame, because Mirah’s music embodies much of what makes indie pop interesting. She uses out-of-tune instruments, organic recording techniques, and collages of found sounds to give character to her songs. She shuttles quickly and expertly between styles, while retaining a distinct voice. She’s not circumspect about putting forward an alternative voice in a crowd of lovesick, conventional female singers. And all this makes her a richer, and more rewarding, songwriter.
That Old Days Feeling collects 14 unreleased and rare Mirah recordings, making them available to everyone for the first time. Okay, I know what you’re thinking – here’s an underrated but not inaccessible singer, unreleased rarities – for dedicated fans only, right? I won’t argue that’s not going to make up the bulk of the audience for That Old Days Feeling, but it would be a shame if those are the only people who heard it. These songs catapult through Mirah’s various musical interests and paint a full picture of the artist’s quirky worldview.
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