There is a band that is doing something unlike any other band out there. I’d say they are the future of popular music but that’s a stupid knee-jerk reactionary statement that makes absolutely no sense and actually diminishes the band because, well, the future of popular music should be so good. That band is Tune-yards and they are making some of the most interesting music I have heard in years. And while their two newest records – 2011’s WHOKILL and this year’s Nikki Nack – are both great examples of the classic philosophy that presupposes to treat the musical album as an artistic statement they are also considerably eclectic, strange even when compared to modern rock/popular music.
I’m not saying this is 100% something you’ve never heard before. No, there are a great many influences present in Tune-yards music; whether it’s the more familiar influences such as Nate Brenner’s elusively jazzy bass lines or singer Merrill Garbus’ fascinatingly complex use of sampling/looping that both on record and live give Tune-yards much of their textured sound, or the more eclectic world influences they bring to the table with their dense arrangements for both percussion and vocals, Tune-yards is simply very adept at taking pieces or techniques from other places and putting them into a new context. If you listen to WHOKILL and find yourself intrigued, A) buy it and, B) pick up Nikki Nack. Merrill’s time in Haiti, interacting with musicians there very much informs the new record and makes it a completely different experience from what she’s done before, while still stylistically developing her very recognizable style. Also, take a moment to check out carrefourcollaborative.org – it is a sponsored collaboration that sends artists from Chicago to Haiti and helps fund or acknowledge Haitian artists who otherwise do not have any support for their art.
Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.