The Last Drop

Reviews and Clues on Music That Matters (to me)

New Issue: tUnE-yArDs, whokill

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tUnE-yArDs, whokill – Wow. I sat on this draft for over 6 months. And this is probably my favorite album of last year. Well, here’s to cleaning up that old drafts box.

Eccentricity. What’s not to love?! Sure, anyone can come up with a slightly off hand band name, push further into excess with an even odder presentation of the name, and then a crazy sound to boot. Take this for example. But few can pull this off with ease and grace. And subtlety. I know, not quite what one should expect from an album with “kill” in it. But there it is – choice, intention, space – saddling up to experimentation like they belong. And making a good show of it. Yes, I am spending way too much time to say that this will probably be one of my favorite records of the year. So kill me.

First, and this is a big first, I still struggle with how all of these sounds can come from 1) one person and 2) a woman. Nope, this isn’t a self loathing, sexist statement. Rather, an admission that my preconceived notions of possibility have been shattered by Merrill and her loops. That voice. What is it? Seriously, I had to watch videos of her live performances to prove that it was indeed her and not a dub of some male ’80s singer with an aggressive high range. I’ve never heard that timber from a female singer. Ever. Like never ever. It still takes me a few songs in to realize she covers all of the singing. It’s so…oddly familiar. And yet still disarming. Nevertheless, I like it. A lot. She uses her vocals to affect emotion and power better than most. Then the production takes over. In the same vein of Menomena, she takes her work personally. No need to collaborate when you already have a strong ear. Lots of attention placed on the arrangements – full, lively, and purposeful. Everything in balance without seeming over-thought. The added idiosyncratic touches (an extra blip here, cutting out the instruments to let her vocals wail for a bit, etc.) solidify the bedroom studio feel and endear you ever more. It all sounds so wild – uninhibited, driving, surprising. And replays well. Don’t look now, but I may actually be becoming a fan of Bay Area music. And maybe you will be too…

Written by TopDrop

February 1st, 2012 at 9:00 pm

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