Artist You Should Know: tUnE-yArDs

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From KCRW volunteer Sierra Drucker

That playful use of punctuation in the band name tUnE-yArDs is no mistake.  Merrill Garbus, the one-woman force known as tUnE-yArDs, has been breaking all the rules since she stepped out on the scene with her debut album “BiRd-BrAiNs” in 2009.  This lo-fi ramshackle garage neo-tribal psych rock album (yes, all of those adjectives are necessary) first turned heads for its sheer brave quirkiness.  But once she took her show on the road, people really began to notice that those lo-fi recordings translated to infectious energy and raw talent on stage.

Using this newfound success, she fleshed out her sound, cleaned it up, and allowed that soulful guttural voice to shine through on her latest full length “w h o k i l l(4AD).

Right off the bat she astounds with this killer single and video to boot.  Check out “Bizness” below and grab a free mp3 of the track here

Garbus hints to her tribal musical leanings in this video with face paint and cave-like chalk drawings.  Using whimsical vocal treatments, unexpected loops, clanging percussion, and that untamed belt she creates a visceral experience in song that is like nothing I’ve ever heard.

She’s currently embarking on a rigorous w h o k i l l tour, which will apparently feature a saxophone section.  Do yourself a favor and find a show-date near you to see the magic in person.

No doubt this album is making my top ten of 2011 list.  If I had to sum it up in one word – badass.

Psst – don’t forget to check out Taryn Olsen’s blog about Thao & Mirah, the female powerhouse project produced by and featuring tUnE-yArDs.