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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tUnE-yArDs at Terminal 5

Last Friday night, with special guests Delicate Steve and (all the way from London) Micachu and the Shapes.

It was, as expected, an extraordinary evening of far-out African-inflected and futuristic pop/dance/rock music. Great musicianship all around, as this clip of the tUnE-yArDs’ “Bizness” (one of a long series of highlights) only hints at. (I was not the photographer. I was just somewhere between the camera and the Merrill Garbus.) Continue reading

The Profound Beauty of Micachu and The Shapes

Here’s a new band on me: Micachu and The Shapes (with multi-instrumentalist Mica Levi, keyboardist Raisa Khan and drummer Marc Pell)  have been playing and recording highly idiosyncratic pop music since 2008. I’m glad to say I’ll be seeing them with another eccentric pop band I’ve written about, tUnE-yArDs featuring Merrill Garbus, as well as Delicate Steve, about whom I know almost nothing. Of course tUnE-yArDs is my main reason for going to the show (June 1st at Terminal 5 in New York City), but researching the other bands on YouTube, I discovered this is promising to be an extraordinary evening. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading