This year's installment of the Next Big Nashville festival gets under way Wednesday, first with the Leadership Music Digital Summit, which merged with NBN this year, over at the Curb Center on the Belmont University Campus, and picking up steam with a screening of And the World Opened Up, the documentary/concert film featuring Brooke Waggoner, at The Belcourt, and on into the night with the first wave of the festival's many music showcases.
David Bazan & The Mynabirds
Here's a bill featuring two singers who approach 1970s-style pop with a mixture of classicism and angst, although a sunny disposition peeks through. On last year's full-length Curse Your Branches, David Bazan put together a series of slippery songs that paid tribute to life lived as a glorious mess. Since leaving his longtime group Pedro the Lion earlier in the decade, the Seattle songwriter has moved away from that band's Christian-music base into something more ambiguous. With synthesizers and guitars at work over minimalist basslines, Bazan evokes everyone from The Beatles to Brian Wilson circa The Beach Boys Love You. Meanwhile, Laura Burhenn's pop-soul voice finds appropriate places to land in the songs she's written for The Mynabirds, whose What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood is one of this year's best collections. Formerly half of the power-pop duo Georgie James, Burhenn moved to Omaha to make the record, and sounds as if she spent the time curled up with the complete works of Cass Elliot and Lorraine Ellison. The tunes meander, but the chord changes are sharp, and Burhenn sings like soul music can wash away any heartache. 9 p.m. at Mercy Lounge EDD HURT
Tristen, The Mattoid, Megan McCormick & Jasmin Kaset
Like a harder-drinking Julie Doiron, or maybe a more-likely-to-sing-about-Halle-Berry Laura Veirs, Nashville's Jasmin Kaset has a quirky, offhanded charm that works well with her odd story songs. While The Mattoid needs no introduction to those who've seen his arty grunt-rock in action, others may need a minute to acclimate — it's a minute worth taking. Megan McCormick and Tristen have each separated themselves from the local pack — McCormick with earthy songwriting smarts and agile guitar work, Tristen with cutting lyrical wit and gutty, bracing vocal performances. 8:30 p.m. at The Basement, 7:30 p.m. at 12th & Porter
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