Somewhere in the vast nothing that lies between absolute valued genres and indefinable avant-garde, sits Merrill Garbus. She is the creative genius or perhaps more appropriately “ringmaster,” of Tune-Yards. On record, Tune-Yards is nearly a one woman show, with Garbus handling the unique vocal layering, looped drum patterns, ukulele and worlds of face paint assumed to be involved. 2011’s “whokill” was a critically acclaimed beauty of an album, which for as ambitious as it was, was very well received across the board. “Nikki Nack,” opens a new chapter for Garbus and has more than given her the opportunity to stretch herself.
“Nikki Nack” captures much more pungently the essence of a Tune-Yards live show, including the fierceness of Garbus’ voice, which is one of the most powerful I’ve ever heard. However, the album doesn’t skimp on intricacies and subtle magic buried beneath frenetic flourishes and layers of sound. The album’s first two singles gave an early glimpse of what to expect upon hearing the complete work. ‘Water Fountain’ was released back in March and exudes the charm of little girls playing double-dutch on a street corner, while maintaining an infectious bass groove. The second single, ‘Wait for a Minute,’ caught me a bit off guard because you kind of have to try and hear the nuances that make this a Tune-Yards song. It’s also somewhat moody, but not completely devoid of the Garbus character, as she wraps the normative around the ethereal, making this track my favorite on the album.
Garbus’ concern for her work getting stale after garnering the acclaim she did for “whokill” is quite obvious. She has taken great strides to avoid a dry spell of a third album, and everything she has done has worked remarkably well. “Nikki Nakk” is out now via 4AD.
If you haven’t heard: Courtney Barnett
Australia has been responsible for some amazing music over the past five years (overlooking the whole Gotye thing). Considering that Cut Copy, Tame Impala, Vancouver Sleep Clinic and Battleships have all come to us via ‘The Land Down Under,’ it’s never surprising when something new surfaces from Australia and catches my ear.
Courtney Barnett has repeatedly impressed me over the past few months. She is a singer-songwriter with a lazy, deadpan singing style and a tongue-in-cheek, rambling approach to lyrics. She has her own style, and once you hear her for the first time, it’s immediately recognizable. Last year, she released her second EP, “How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose,” containing ‘Avant-Gardener,’ the single, which along with an acclaimed set at the CMJ Music Marathon, has helped her garner international acclaim. She has since taken her two EP releases and compiled them into one full-length release, “A Sea of Split Peas,” and released the second single ‘History Eraser,’ to comparable acclaim. Since most of this happened last year, we can cross our fingers that some new things are on the horizon for her. Until then, “A Sea of Split Peas” is out now via Mom & Pop Music.
Track of the Week: Glass Animals-Gooey
Last week, I heard the track ‘Gooey’ from UK band Glass Animals for the first time. Early on, I didn’t really dig it. Then Sirius XMU started playing it every time I got in my car, and that didn’t help things either. I bought the track and actually listened to it a few times, and it really grew on me quite quickly. It’s sexy, hazy and once it makes contact, it’s infectious. Be on the lookout for more from these cats in the near future.