Last week, avant-garde songstress Merrill Garbus and her band, Tune-Yards, made their second stop of the year in Chicago in support of their latest full-length, Whokill. Known for its use of looped drum and vocal patterns and ukelele in live performances, Tune-Yards creates a diverse whirlwind that spans from doo-wop to hip hop to folk. Photographer Elizabeth Gilmore snapped these shots of Garbus and company (in their signature face paint) at Lincoln Hall.
Hot on the heels of releasing her second full-length, Whokill, Merrill Garbus (better known as Tune-Yards) took to the stage at Lincoln Hall in Chicago to crank out a few jams in her signature, inspired, on-the-fly style. Garbus builds layers on stage by recording and looping drum and vocal patterns, creating diverse, avant-garde sounds that jump from classic doo-wop melodies to groove-heavy, jazz-influenced electronic pastiches. Photographer Elizabeth Gilmore was on hand for the performance.
The Groove Seeker goes in search of killer grooves across rock, funk, hip hop, soul, electronic music, jazz, fusion, and more.
Tune-Yards: “Bizness”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/06-Bizness.mp3|titles=tUnE-yArDs: “Bizness”]
If you’ve ever seen Merill Garbus’ Tune-Yards play live, you understand how resourceful and creative a musician she is. With a ragtag set of drums and ukulele close at hand, Garbus builds her songs from scratch by live-looping repetitive drum and vocal patterns. Crafty to say the least, her performances are a multitasking puzzle of pedal stepping and vocal-scat arranging, revealing compositions and melodies that are spontaneous but clearly logical.
As Tune-Yards, Garbus surprised many with a gem of a debut in 2009. That record, Bird-Brains, thrives on the same weirdness and DIY attitude that make Garbus’ live shows so enjoyable. Not only were the songs recorded using a freeware program, but the folk-inspired experiments are packed with field recordings, Dictaphone samples, and intermittent elements of R&B and hip hop, all loosely fastened down by Garbus’ versatile Afro-pop-influenced vocals.
Whokill, Garbus’ second album under the case-sensitive moniker (generally stylized as tUnE-yArDs), sees her trading in the Dictaphone for some full-blown studio time. Tracked and mixed by Eli Crews (producer for Deerhoof and Why?), with co-writing credits going to bassist Nate Brenner (Beep), the record shows definite growth from those lo-fi-recording days. Thankfully, a bit of studio polish doesn’t take away her charm and musical wit. If anything, the new approach gives her avant-garde pop the right venue in which to be properly heard.
On a weekly basis, The Groove Seeker goes in search of killer grooves across rock, funk, hip hop, soul, electronic music, jazz, fusion, and more.
Beep: “Robo Pup”
[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/BEEP_Robo_Pup.mp3|titles=Beep: “Robo Pup”]
San Francisco-based trio Beep has tapped into a fresh vanguard with its upcoming release City of the Future. The indie-rock-meets-experimental-jazz trio is commanding without being loud, making the dynamics and improvisational strategies of jazz accessible to a whole new audience. City of the Future contains pieces that advance rather than deconstruct in an accomplished style that forgoes any art-school tropes narrowly associated with the experimental tag.
Produced by Eli Crews (producer for Deerhoof and Why?), the record is marked by passionate percussion and a broad sense of what a melody can sound like. Making avant garde sound closer than ever to the present, Beep has found a sound that mixes the vibrancy of the modern rock recording with the experimental subtleties of a jazz record.