The wonder that is tUnE-yArDs have had her live concert from the Newport Folk Festival added on to the NPR website for full streaming. One hour of absolute bliss starts after the click.
We love all the different ways tune-yards can get us going. Here’s a wonderful edition of Fiya – in a shop!!!
It’s that time of year again – a wrap up of the top 10 albums I have had the pleasure of buying. This list is for musical artist album releases only. A separate one will be done for game soundtracks. Here goes:
10) Zola Jesus – Vessel
A fantastic culmination and one of my most recent new discoveries, it just edges into the top 10 by providing me with one of the few dark and damp albums of 2011. Her voice harks back to generations of old and the electronics and dramatic song structures make it a treat to visit the darkness every time.
09) Faun – Eden
Band members have left and been replaced and while you can tell that Faun’s sound has changed forever. It still sits firmly in the Pagan Folk genre they’ve helped create but the vocals are more hymn like, English is introduced and the overall sound is one more of a forest pixie raging war on humanity. Either way, it’s still utterly superb.
08) St Vincent – Strange Mercy
St Vincent makes the most clumsy, sloppy and seemingly out of control music seem to still have order, beauty and integrity. Her third studio album is full of all the quirks, embellishments and random freak outs we’ve come to expect but in a more assured manner and with more layers than ever before!
07) Gregory Douglass – Lucid
Having watched Gregory over various live net shows introduce, change, develop and grow Lucid from a concept into a fully evolved being, it’s a fantastic dream concept album that works from start to finish. Showcasing some great technical wizardry, it features some of the most catchy numbers and some of the most heartbreaking from his career to date.
06) Amiina – Puzzle
From what I thought was a lovely, quaint but slightly one-sided debut, Puzzle lifts Amiina into a new level. The quartet have perfected their craft of weaving the most unlikely of instruments together into lullabies but now also into powerful epic seven minute masterpieces.
05) Bjork – Biophilia
Never one to sit still, Biophilia is a career spanning genre bending full flow freak out. Never compromising, always challenging – it contains highlights of Bjork’s most beautiful, most powerful and most scary moments of her musical career.
04) Tori Amos – Night of Hunters
Tori Amos remains my favourite musical artist of all time. The reason this hasn’t reached the top spot is purely because it’s an album that requires a lot of time and effort to digest and I’m not really there yet. The string arrangements are beautiful and the songs are fantastic. Many have called it a return to form but I never saw her falter. A bold new direction and one that pays off.
03) Lamb – 5
The return of Lamb was unexpected but much appreciated with the perfect blend of Lou’s own solo styles and Andy’s more electronic edges. The album is much more direct and approachable with instant hooks throughout, making it by far my favourite Lamb album to date and hopefully will give them confidence to continue on.
02) tUne-YaRdS – W H O K I L L
Only discovering the sheer genius of this lady last year, being able to enjoy the growth from début to album number 2 was phenomenal. All the funky vocal collages are still here, as is the home ramshackle production but this time fused with brass and some more tip-top production too. It just seems like such a natural bloom. Magical.
01) Charlotte Martin – Dancing on Needles
The album that keeps giving with all the b-sides being released online, it’s a perfect merger of all Charlotte’s previous works of piano, guitar, keyboard and pounding drums. Her voice is an absolute marvel and every song is as achingly beautiful and painful as the last. Without doubt my album of the year.
Narrowly missing out were PJ Harvey, Kate Bush, Sarah Slean, The Go Team and Omodaka.
To cap off the review, here’s the mega video for “bizness”
We love Merril here at HPM and after the stunning debut of Bird-Brains, tUnE-yArDs returns with W H O K I L L which moves the home-made sound along into great clarity while keeping the whole low production settings and bursting enthusiasm throughout.
Opener “My Country” is typically outspoken and political and has plenty of percussive and melodic trickery going on in the background but still in a home-made setting. Add in fanfare brass and loud boisterous vocals and you have an instant classic. What’s more noticeable is that the songs are much more layered this time round using lots of vocal layers swirling around that she uses live. “Es-So” has a particularly kooky edge to it with its raising off camber chord structure. It’s slightly panicked but fun all at the same time which is a great combination especially with the keyboard twists at the end.
“Gangsta” reminds me of a real hark back to the debut album with Merril’s vocals being chewed into a police siren. Everything has elevated production wise however and is much more complex and fuller in sound. This track has such a forceful power to it which is really the order of the day. Garbus has really stood on her own two feet with this album making lots of political and feminine statements. Her second album is much more confrontational and confident throughout. “Powa” is almost produced properly! The vocals are crystal clear and not overdriving, the guitar actually doesn’t blister the speakers and everything chugs along nicely. It’s great to note that without the production twists and deafening ukelele the music holds up completely on its own merit. “Riotriot” utilises the uke beautifully using its whole aural spectrum from beautiful harp like twinkle to guitar rock outs. The track builds and builds from a patter into a blast and gets you going with it.
“Bizness” is my favourite track on the album. Using lots of looping vocal samples and a ton of percussive stick and clicks, Garbus absolutely rocks out to one of the most catchy chorus’ I’ve heard all year. It’s the sheer celebration of the music that is apparent throughout the album that by this point has really pushed all your buttons and got you moshing and dancing around to the infectious beats. Stunning. “Doorstep” is a t-y hark back to the 70′s diva genre I’m sure with sumptuous vocal montages and lots of shoop-shooping. Of course there’s the usual percussive loops and serious bass lines throughout but this is the most serene I’ve heard her yet!
“You Yes You” is a funky rock track but it’s eclipsed by the beautiful second clip at the end of what I assume is her son singing. So cute! “WoolyWollyGong” is contender for best song name of the year and its the only quiet song on the album. A slow tick tocking track that is minimal in sound and production it holds a mysterious timeless quality as if everything has been put on pause. There’s nothing else quiet on the album so it stands out for that reason and for Merril’s high vocal register sounding beautiful. The album closing with the fantastic “Killa” with lyrics flying in from all angles and some rocking uke riffs. It’s almost like an alternative uke rock disco track.
It’s a fantastic follow-up album. Moving her sound along to be more complex, fluid and seemless and yet retaining the unique overall production sound and sheer energy of her music, tUnE-yArDs continues to grow into an absolutely powerhouse. A fantastic album for all who dare look outside the box.
While I await for her second album to arrive on my doorstep, I’ll settle for this awesome video from Pitchfork!
In anticipation of my postman delivering me tUnE-yArDs latest album WHOKILL, this is a taste of what’s to come with a fantastic live rendition of a song from the new album. Can’t wait!
Tune-Yard’s “Hatari” single has two additional non album tracks which both deserve to be picked up by completists and fans alike! The first b-side is “Hap-B” which is a vocal montage of hollars, chants and train honks. The song moves along at a brisk pace backed with uke guitar and would have easily been good enough for the album proper. The second b-side is “Hatari (The Small Is Beautiful Mix)” which takes some of the vocal lines and speeds them up a tad to give an ethnic flavour and adds a samba-esque beat that sticks out but the main core of the song and the general power of the production push remains the same and untouched. It’s a clever mix that is a good alternative.
“Real Live Flesh” has one new track and that’s called “Youth” and fits perfectly into the albums sound. The lazy guitar riff and cutlery percussion works well together almost like its the chillout track of the album that was never added.
Tune-Yard fans will find two great b-sides and a clever remix here if they chase down these singles digitally and they are all worthy additions to the Tune-Yard collection.
This weeks Live Vault comes from the wonderful tUnE-yArDs with a sparkling rendition of the track “News” from her debut album. It’s surprising how much noise one lady can make!
This weeks Video Vault comes from the absolutely fantastic solo artist tUnE-yArDs. This music video from Real Live Flesh is so entertaining yet it looks like she done it in her living room. It’s not surprising that though as she recorded her whole album in her bedroom with the tiniest budget and yet although I’ve only just discovered her, every video I’ve seen makes me want to hear more. Enjoy!