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Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight: tUnE-yArDs

tUnE-yArDs - Sunlight.mp3

Upon first listen, tUnE-yArDs may sound like just another female fronted indie band with an obnoxiously spelt name. So you can imagine my surprise when during a performance, the only person to come out on stage was a timid-looking young woman with a half-painted face.

tUnE-yArDs is a one woman band comprised of Merrill Garbus, though at times her music may sound like it took a whole village to make. I think my friend Amy put it best when she said, “I wonder how she realized that she was capable of making noises like that.” Heavily impacted by the time she spent in Africa, Merrill’s debut album BiRd-BrAiNs also echos sounds of her time as a nanny in Cape Cod. The album was recorded during the span of 2.5 years using a microphone and the freeware audio editor Audacity.

It is through a loop pedal that she is able to recreate the album, and sometimes even new material thought up on the spot, in a live setting. Calling upon the experience Merrill gained from performing as a puppeteer in Vermont, her shy demeanor fades more and more behind the facade of facepaint as each subsequent beat is looped. She then layers the song with vocals and sometimes ukulele, until they reach a feverish climax of yelps and hollers (often supplemented by audience participation). At that very moment, before the crowd no longer stands a timid girl, but a powerful and exuberant young woman. tUnE-yArDs is a genuinely talented show-stealer, no matter whom she plays alongside.

Though BiRd-BrAiNs was initially self-released as a Pay-What-You-Want album, it was first picked up by Marriage Records and is also slated to be reissued by 4AD. You can currently purchase the album in vinyl (+MP3) format HERE. All of the Marriage Records BiRd-BrAiNs LPs are hand-screened on recycled record covers. Mine is printed on a fabulous Great Songs of Christmas compilation featuring Doris Day and Robert Goulet.

If that isn’t reason enough to check out tUnE-yArDs’ promising debut, hopefully another sample track will win you over:

tUnE-yArDs - Hatari.mp3


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