Tag Archives: tUnE-yArDs

Day 145: tUnE-yArDs – BiRd-BrAiNs

23 Jul

For You

Man-lady has returned!  Well, not really “returned,” I guess.  From my perspective, she has, but that’s only because I’m listening to her releases out of order.  A few months back,  I noticed that w h o k i l l (tUnE-yArDs’ second record) was receiving a ton of hype.  I checked it out for the blog, and fell in love immediately.  Merrill Garbus is just so different from everyone else that’s out there right now, in the best way possible.  I honestly believe that this is what pop music will sound like in twenty years; we’ll see about that.

Anyway, the point is that BiRd-BrAiNs came first, but I’m checking it out second.  Deal with it.

Guess what, Merrill was kicking ass even before the hype set in.  This record sounds a little less produced and mastered than her sophomore effort, but other than that, it’s clear that this is the exact same talented, creative musician at work.

This music remains almost impossible to describe; it’s just something that you have to hear for yourself.  I have a word count to make, though, so I’ll give a description a shot.  It’s a woman with a really deep voice layering anything that comes to mind, from her tribal chants and lyrics, to what I’m pretty sure was a ping pong paddle hitting a ping pong table.  Yeah, it’s kinda like that.  My description doesn’t do the amazingness of these two records justice, though.

If you like weird music, this is right down your alley.   Of course, I think this should be down everybody’s alley, but one night, when I was in the car with the fam, NPR did a little feature on tUnE-yArDs.  Everyone else thought that it was the world music show.  Shows what I know.

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Day 87: tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l

26 May

Gangsta

About halfway through this record, something hit me.  I hadn’t done my usual pre-listen research, and I couldn’t get over the vocals.  Naturally, for most of the album, I pictured the unconventional screech that dominates w h o k i l l was coming from a dude.  Now, you could write a whole dissertation on what that says about sexism in the indie community or something, but it’s the truth.  Merrill Garbus, the sole member of tUnE-yArDs (case-sensitive), sounds like a man.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not care at all.  I’m not sexist to the point that I let the gender of the singer effect how I perceive the music.  It just really threw me off.  I feel like I’m only digging myself into a deeper hole, so just listen to this, and you’ll understand what I mean.

Okay, straight-up, w h o k i l l is not for everybody.  It’s classified as “freak folk” (a genre name that I usually despise, because people apply it to almost anything unconventional—it’s becoming the new “alternative”).  That term almost fits when applied to tUnE-yArDs, though.  There are plenty of elements of folk music that shine through, but overall, this music just has an extremely weird, unconventional sound—and I love it.

I was trying to come up with a list of the different elements that can be heard throughout w h o k i l l, which proved to be nearly impossible.  Part of what gives this record such a strange sound is the large number of instruments and samples that come together to form something truly awesome.  Chances are, you may not like tUnE-yArDs.  Give man-lady a shot, though, and listen to a couple of songs.  If nothing else, you will hear something unlike anything you’ve heard before.