cHeCk oUt ThE tUnE-YaRdS!

Posted in Entertainment by Sarah on May 12, 2011

There’s been a different sound pumping from the speakers in our apartment lately… the sound of the tUnE-YaRdS.  Yes, those unconventional caps are intentional.  They certainly capture your attention, in the same way their music will.  The tUnE-YaRdS have been around for some time, although we stumbled upon them just a few months ago.

"w h o k i l l" album cover

The tUnE-YaRdS have a unique and infectious sound, utilizing unexpected beats, vocals, instruments, and song structures.  The sound is driven by the creative genius of Merrill Garbus, who originally hails from Connecticut but has found a home in the Bay Area (woo!).  Merill plays the ukelele (sometimes by pounding on it) along with various other instruments, and orchestrates the synthesis of these sounds into each tUnE-YaRdS song.  But it’s really her compelling, powerful voice that is the hallmark of the tUnE-YaRdS songs; it adds a depth and texture that is not often found in music today.  Her bandmate, Nate Brenner provides the perfect complement to her style with smooth and full basslines.

Their creative sound ranges from pop and alt-rock beats, to hip-hop, to bluesy-jazz, to experimental.   The music sometimes requires a few listens to fully internalize and appreciate, but you inevitably get there (and find yourself humming all day long).   When you get to this point, the lyrics open up.  Many of the songs are narrative-style, and the stories they tell might surprise a casual listener – the TuNe-YaRdS unflinchingly confront some serious and topical issues like body image, race, and violence.  When layered on top of complex and intriguing music, there’s much to explore!

Pitchfork gives their latest album, “w h o k i l l” a solid 8.8.  Respect!  My personal favorite has been “Bizness,” although nearly all the songs on the album are notable; Killa is a groovy empowered-woman kind of song, the unexpected “Doorstep” tells a heartbreaking story over a peppy doowop-inspired melody, and Es so captures the funky, offbeat, tongue-in-cheek style that characterizes Merrill’s music.

Here’s a link to their album on Amazon.  Below is a video of the song Bizness, featuring some adorable kids and amazing dancers from the Bay Area.  Check it out!


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