Brainchild of singer-songwriter Merrill Garbus, tUnE-yArDs have fashioned an expansive sound incorporating layered ukulele, voice, electric bass and drum loops into an eclectic DIY aesthetic. The New York Times describes Garbus as “somewhere between Aretha Franklin and Yoko Ono.” She showcases her sound for her first appearance on the Austin City Limits stage.
Garbus began creating music in 2006 using only a digital voice recorder and shareware mixing software. BiRd-BrAiNs, the debut albums, was self-released in 2009 on recycled cassette tapes which Garbus packaged in recycled screenprinted sleeves from thrift stores. She soon caught the attention of 4AD Records, who signed her a month after the album’s initial release and helped her find a niche in the indie music sphere. The Guardian called her “the find of the year” and Pitchfork wrote: “The ultimate draw is Garbus’ voice, which can be husky and serious or else pitched up to make her sound like a kid humming to herself to pass the time. She’s got a respectable amount of power and range, but more importantly, she sings with abandon.”
tUnE-yArDs’ sophomore album w h o k i l l was released in 2011 and incorporates a varied range of genres, from fok and funk to free jazz and Afrobeat. Similar to her debut, the album relies on heavily layered loop sounds, but departs from hand-held recordings in favor of a more resonant studio sound. W h o k i l l has met with positive reviews, ranking as the number one album of 2011 on The Village Voice‘s annual “Pazz and Jop” critic’s poll. The AV Club writes that on w h o k i l l, Garbus’ “lyrical persona is as playfully warped as the rhythms punching away behind it.”
EPISODE LISTEdward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros/tUnE-yArDs (Season 38)
- Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and tUnE-yArDs experimental double-bill
- tUnE-yArDs: a show unlike any other
- Ticket giveaway: tUnE-yArDs 5/29
- tUnE-yArDs Tapes Austin City Limits on 5/29