April 27 2011
If you had to place Thao Ngyen and Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn on a shelf of music, they would be right smack-dab in the middle of the tUnE-yArDs and Rachael Yamagata. This seemingly doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, until the first listen. Like high school best friends, one is the wild child while the other serves as the voice of reason. They compliment each other and share the lead simultaneously. And luckily, they prefer to simply go by Thao and Mirah.
Thao, more commonly known from Thao with The Get Down Stay Down, and Mirah found each other in San Francisco and began touring shortly after. In early 2010, Thao and Mirah performed at the Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco, and later announced a North American tour under the name Thao and Mirah With The Most Of All. The duo recorded and released their first album Thao and Mirah on Kill Rock Stars produced by Merrill Garbus of the tUnE-yArDs. The influences of all three styles come together to create the perfect alter ego for any occasion.
Thao is the party girl, bringing bold husky vocals with an electric back up. Mirah offers an owned quiet whisper on tracks like “Little Cup” and “Hallelujah.” Both seem equally comfortable laying it down on twangy and pop tracks alike. Every song sounds like something you might find on each musician’s independent works, but somehow sounds better harmonized track by track.
Garbus makes her production presence known right from the start on “Eleven.” It begs the listener to get up and jump around as drumsticks click, girl cheers, and synthesizers ring. Thao and Mirah trade off chanting, "When love is love/ Don't let it go away.” If only the rest of the album kept up this pace. Garbus is so apparent in the album, one might just feel compelled to pop in a tUnE-yArD’s album to keep the energy going as soon as “Folks,” the second track, begins.
Other highlights include “How Dare You,” with both girls wooing and harmonizing through a catchy call-out. “Rubies and Rocks,” another Garbus-powered track, puts Mirah at the front of an upbeat horn section and electric drums. The album slows down throughout, and space-travel whistling finds it way into "Sugar and Plastic."
It's a little bit of everything, and it's exactly Thao and Mirah.