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Nikki Nack

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iTunes Review

Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner believe that anything is possible and that every genre has its place somewhere in their music. That so many others relate to this eclectic, unpredictable mix of sounds proves they’re tapping into a sound that’s greater than themselves. Listeners love to be dazzled by sound and even the sharpest critics are left wondering what’s exactly happening here. Garbus chants into her vocoders and steps out into the spotlight for a guiding lead vocal on “Real Thing” that’s accompanied by a complex mix of odd rhythms, synthetic sounds and swooping bass lines. Producers Malay (Alicia Keys, Frank Ocean) and John Hill (Santigold, MIA, Shakira) keep the minimalism rocking. The synths frequently sound like sketches that have been cut-up beyond recognition while vocals sound like schoolyard taunts and personal moments caught on tape (“Hey Life,” “Stop That Man”). This mix of casual, random and precise captures a relatively conventional tune and pop arrangement in “Wait for a Minute” and a field holler for “Rocking Chair.” Eclecticism is in.

Customer Reviews

Otherworld Music

If Bird-Brains represents the most interesting music that can be recorded in a bedroom, and WHOKILL shows what that sound can become in a real studio, then Nikki Nack is the point at which Tune-Yards' Merrill Garbus gathered all the earthly tools at her disposal and left the planet to colonize an alien sonic landscape. The simple melodies once plucked from a simple ukelele are still referenced here, but they have evolved in a lush environment of musical influence, incorporating elements as varied as tribal rhythms, slam poetry, and electronica. Vocals soar and hover but stop short of familiar melodic structure, leaving the listener clinging to the edge wondering where the ground went. "I can't tell my brain to not talk back," Garbus sings in "Hey Life," hinting at the manic energy coursing through the entire record. After the no-holds-barred aural assault of "Water Fountain," "Time of Dark" sounds almost conventional; haunting layered vocals build to an anthemic crescendo with an inspirational message: "There will never be a mountain I'm not willing to climb," she sings with convincing audacity. But just when things feel comfortable, a heavily distorted guitar launches into a chaotic solo as a reminder that nothing here is ordinary. Anything that might once have been a conceit has been honed and revitalized to fit within a more ambitious whole. While many artists' musical journeys lead from the center toward the fringe of pop appeal, the sound Garbus is making from beyond the visible horizon might just convince the center to move in her direction.

Woo Ha Woo Ha

Woo Ha Woo Ha

Good Dancing Love

So nice. Love it. Makes me do the good dancing.


Born: 1979

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Beginning as the lo-fi experimental folk project of Merrill Garbus (also of the noisy indie pop band Sister Suvi) tUnE-yArDs fuses indie-pop and global elements into uniquely vibrant music. Garbus began writing and performing under the tUnE-yArDs moniker in 2006, using a digital voice recorder and shareware mixing software to assemble her homespun patchwork of found sounds, field recordings, ukulele, unusual percussion and surprisingly soulful vocals. It took Garbus two years to craft debut album,...
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Nikki Nack, Tune-Yards
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