Merrill Garbus Puts Africa In Your Earbuds

OkayAfrica invited Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs (one of my current favorites) to make a mix of her own favorite African pop tunes.  It lasts about 30 minutes, delves into music going back to the 1970s and 1980s as well as more recent numbers, and ranges from the Horn of Africa down to the Cape and into the rainforests. You can read about her choices here.

TRACKLIST
Lema GebreHiwot “Wondemiye (Wedding Song)” ft. Selamawit Gebre Selassie, and Zenebech Tesfaye (Ethiopia)
Dur Dur “Goromphmca: (Somalia)
Hukwe Zawose “Safiri na Muziki” (Tanzania)
Mlimani Park Orchestra ”Tangazia Mataifa Yote” (Tanzania)
Johnny Clegg and Savuka “Moliva” (South Africa)
9Ice ”Gongo Aso” (Nigeria)
Koffi Olomide ”Loi” (DR Congo)

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Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs: Not Your Fantasy Girl

I’ve been listening to tUnE-yArDs via YouTube most of the morning. I am wild about the African-inspired polyrhythms and harmonies, the booming, surprising, versatile voice of founder and chief-creative genius Merrill Garbus, the edgy, Jah-Wobbly bass of Nate Brenner, the discordant post-bop Fela-infused horns of Matt Nelson and Kasey Knudsen. Here’s a live studio rendition of “Real Live Flesh” from their EP Bird-Droppings (the “official video” is awfully cute and fun to watch as well):

I just discovered this band today, randomly selecting “Gangsta” from their second album w h o k i l l to play from a list of new Alt/Punk releases on Rhapsody and falling for it right away. It always stuns me when a band I have no defenses against provokes strong negative reactions in others, and from my morning of exploration of this band, I’ve encountered a lot of viscerally negative remarks (which the kids these days call “hating”) among the comments on every one of their videos.  It’s not just the music that people are reacting to. I guess it never is, really, but in tUnE-yArD’s case, most of it is inspired by the un-pop-star, androgynous quality of front woman Garbus.

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