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tUnE-yArDs


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Beautiful & fierce evocative/eclectic experimental alternative pop

Status:

Most recent release, Nikki-Nack (2014)

See also:

tUnE-yArDs' minimal web site

tUnE-yArDs' MySpace page

Comparisons:

If you put Psapp! Pram! Nina Simone, Anhai, and an old 1970s Lesbian folkie in a blender....and punked the result out. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)

PJ Harvey, Björk, Veda Hille

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

tUnE-yArDs is Merrill Garbus at serious play. Putting together a range of sounds from field recordings to home-made percussion and using her voice from a whisper to a full-blast African vocals inspired shout, her music is experimental yet powerfully catchy. She has a wide-ranging yet singular vision such as only a very few artists like PJ Harvey, Björk and Veda Hille can manage. (Neile)

love her and her crazy sound. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

Recommended first album:

Either

Recordings:


BiRd-BrAiNs

Release info:

2009—Marriage; rereleased by 4AD

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Merrill Garbus

Guest artists:

Isaac and Sadie—voices
Adam Kinner—tenor sax (9)

Comments:

I played this album steadily for seven months now—it's definitely my album of the year. I first heard of it on Wears The Trousers and downloaded it since that was the only alternative to vinyl. Then a limited-edition CD became available over the summer, so I bought that. Then in November a wider-release came out with bonus tracks, so I bought that, too. Yes, I really, really like this. Okay, I love this! I particularly recommend "Little Tiger" (I've been especially obsessing on that track, "Sunlight," and "Lions," but I love the whole album.
     It's wonderfully off-kilter and beautiful. Carefully constructed but allowing for all kinds of messy delightful touches. Her vocals range from brash to ethereal. Impressive. It has been a while since an album insisted I replay it the way this one does.
     It was recorded using a simple Sony recorder, very much a singular, hand-wrought personal vision, influenced by Garbus's travels in Africa and clearly an eclectic musical background. Everything from a cough to a ukelele is grist for the mill. Creative, wonderful music. (Neile)

BiRd-DrOpPiNgs ep

Release info:

2009—digital-only release

Availability:

amazon.com and iTunes

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Merrill Garbus

Comments:

This is a four-track ep that includes the two bonus tracks on the new wide-release version of BiRd-BrAiNs, as well as the remix and b-side from the vinyl "Hatari" single. This is delightful stuff—nearly as wonderful as the album they complement. (Neile)

W H O K I L L

Release info:

2011—4AD—CAD3106CD

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Merrill Garbus—vocals, drums, loops, percussion, korg, casio, horn arrangement, ukulele, juno, stick clicks, beats, found sounds, drum machine
Nate Brenner—bass, marimba, upright bass, horn arrangment, marimba, stick clicks, synth bass, backing vocals

Guest artists:

Kasey Knudsen—alto sax (1, 6)
Matt Helson—tenor sax (1, 3, 5, 6); percussion (5); baritone sax (6)
Harry Bolles, Mark Allen-Piccolo, Melody Parker, Jem Fanvu—backing vocals (1, 5)
Michael Coleman—Rhodes & effects (2)
Leah Fallon—talking (2)
Betty and Lou Garbus and little Merrill—voices (3)
Eli Crews—delays, echoplex (4); uke effects (5); upright bass (9)
Jordan Glenn—drum kit, percussion (5)
Patrick Gregoire—guitar (6) Sam Ospovat—stick clicks (7)
Lisa Schonberg—percussion (10)

Produced by:

Merrill Garbus

Comments:

A more than worthy follow-up album to BiRd-BrAiNs, W H O K I L L is an emotional and political (in "the personal is political" sense) powerhouse of an album. Like BiRd-BrAiNs, the sound is strong and eclective with gorgeous tender moments. Merrill Garbus is an astonishing talent. (Neile)

One of the best albums of the year. (gordodo@optonline.net, JoAnn Whetsell, valrichardson@igc.org)


Nikki Nack

Release info:

2014—4AD—CAD3414CD

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Merrill Garbus—vocals, drums, percussion, drum pads, drum programming, uke, Farfisa, other keys, pocket piano synth, synths, orange stool, jar, snares, field recordings, Moog
Nate Brenner—drums, percussion, bass, electric and upright bass, synths, synth basses, nasty shred bass, Tempest effects, rice bag, tin can, hi-hats, Moog

Guest artists:

Michael Coleman—keyboards, noises (1, 7); synth harpsichord (8)
Thao Nguyen—additional vocals (2, 7, 11); guitar (11)
John Hill—production assistance and samples (2, 4)
Daniel Brevil, master Haitian drummer—percussion (3, 7, 9)
Toni Hartley—additional vocals (4, 6)
Eli Crews—uke effects (5)
Lalin St. Juste—additional vocals (6, 7, 11)
Michelle Alexander—additional vocals (6, 7, 11)
Malay—samples/loops (6)
Sam Amidon—fiddle and fiddle arrangement (12)

Produced by:

Merrill Garbus; John Hill co-produced track 2; Malay co-produced track 10

Comments:

As strange and wonderful as previous albums. It's amazing to me how they can put all these sounds in the music, and it comes out sounding like interesting, intriguing music, not just a pile of noise. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Another brilliant album by Merrill Garbus and co. I love this one just as much as her previous albums—though she's taken a very slight veer toward pop and took both vocal and dance lessons while making this album, the pop is still utterly tUnE-yArDs-flavoured and the vocals still utterly Merrill Garbus. The lyrics still are political and pointed, even the most pop-y track, "Water Fountain." I don't know how she does it, but this sound is magical to me. Nothing quite like it. Definitely one of the best albums of the year. (Neile)


Further info:

Collaborations include: "Lady" with ?uestlove, Akua Naru, and Angélique Kidjo on Red Hot + Fela (2013)

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2014-07-09 17:45:46.
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