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In Rotation: tUnE-yArDs' 'Who Kill'

April 21, 2011 |  5:51 pm

Tuneyards A series in Sunday Calendar about what we're listening to right now...

tUnE-yArDs, the visionary musical project from Oakland, California’s Merrill Garbus, is fittingly named, screwball lettering and all. Listening to the newly released “Who Kill,” the follow-up to “Birdbrains,” her 2009 from-the-dirt debut made in her bedroom, there’s a sense that Garbus considers the whole lot of music as a series of junkyards, available for ransacking and recycling. Her soulful voice, which can veer from a muscular wallop to a tender coo, is the pitbull roaming about this bracingly adventurous album that’s deeply informed by dub, reggae and other Caribbean sounds. Adding bassist Nate Brenner to her one-lady band, the two wrote ten songs that pop and swing with hardline percussion, textured synths and an innovative sense of structure that rewrites the verse-chorus formula.

-- Margaret Wappler

“Who Kill”
(4AD Records)