Tune-Yards…Tune-Awesome!

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I had myself a nice long 4-day weekend, book-ended by two face meltingly awesome concerts. “Meltingly” isn’t a word…but, you know, if President Harding can make up words like “normalcy”, I can make up words like “meltingly”!

I saw my cousin Merrill, aka Tune-Yards, perform Sunday night in a sold out show! It was…well…face meltingly awesome!

Someone yelled, “That dress is hot!” I have to agree, I loved the dress!

I’ve seen Tune-Yards three times now. I can say with certainty that watching her on stage is never a bore. Her music is interesting. Some folks think it’s strange and I have to admit the first time I listened I thought, “What is this? I don’t know but I need to listen again…and again…and again…and again…”  I read a review online once, and I’m sorry I can’t remember where, but the reviewer said something like listen to Tune-Yards a second, and a third, and a fourth time and it will start to sound like music that comes on the radio – like there is nothing strange about it at all.

She loops her voice and drum tracks and plays them over herself live and creates…MAGIC!

Nate – Merrill’s boyfriend and bass player! He has soft hands!

The crowd was enthusiastic – and cram packed since the show was sold out. It was also easy to hear people talk in there, and at one point Merrill asked who had traveled the farthest to see the show. For a minute or so people yelled out their hometowns. Right when it got quiet my uncle yelled out the name of her mom (and my grandpa’s) hometown – and she heard that, because he was loud! She replied “Yeah, I’ve got some family there. I guess that’s where I get my big mouth. Or I should say, my spirit. Thank you cousins!” And our group (especially me) went wild! It was cool.

My mom, Me, my cousin GT, my sister Becca and…drum roll please…the awesome Merrill!!!!

Back in October I went to a corn maze, and there was a guy there selling kettle corn. I have a Tune-Yards bag that I carry around with me like a purse, and the kettle corn guy yelled, “You do not have a Tune-Yards bag!” So I went over to him and we talked for a few minutes about Tune-Yards (of course I had to beam with pride that she’s my cousin to him!!) Well, last night we were standing in the crowd waiting for the show to start when this guy pecks me on the shoulder, “Excuse me, are you related to Merrill?”

I’m thinking in my head, well she’s my first cousin once removed (she’s my mom’s first cousin), we all have the same nose in this family but I don’t think Merrill and I particularly look like each other. I said yes, and asked how he knew that. It was the kettle corn guy! We were in a completely different state from the corn maze and standing right next to each other at this concert. Small and crazy world!

My baby sister Becca got to meet Merrill for the first time, she was over the moon excited. Also, my friend’s son is a zombie. Watch your brains around him!

Merrill’s voice is incredible. She can scream, she can whisper, she can sing high and low and in between and no matter what it sounds good. Oh have I mentioned that Time Magazine and Rolling Stone included her album w h o k i l l in the top albums of 2011? So epic.

She recently killed it at the Bonnaroo festival, and will kill it at Lollapalooza. My words will never be able to do her justice, but if you ever get a chance to see her live I say do so! It’s not like anything you’ve ever seen.

Here’s a video of her doing the song “Powa” from w h o k i l l at the Coachella festival this past April. This is one of my favorite songs. I love at the end there’s almost a choir of voices, and it’s all the loops she recorded of herself at the beginning of the song. She’s just too awesome for me to put into words.

She’s been on Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon, she’s been in Spin, Time, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, etc…. I can’t be more blown away by how awesome she is. And she told me last night I was the #1 Tune-Yards fan! You always hear people say they are a band’s number 1 fan….well I got confirmation straight from the band’s mouth last night so take that world!

Tune-Yards Lovin’

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What’s that you say? I have a super awesome amazing cousin, Merrill? The leader of this kick-ass band Tune-Yards.

Well, I can’t agree with you more! Thank you for pointing it out.

Oh, you heard Tune-Yards is playing Bonnaroo, which is being headlined by the likes of Radiohead and Red Hot Chili Peppers? That is like the most exciting thing I’ve ever heard!

Oh wait? You mean Tune-Yards is also playing at Lollapalooza this year – also headlined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers? You’ve got to be pulling my leg!

Oh, you’re not? Give me a moment while I pick my jaw off the floor.

My cousin, can I be your groupie?

WOW this is so amazing! Not only is she playing two huge U.S. festivals this summer, but her current U.S. tour (and previous U.S. tour) is selling out at some of the venues.

Tune-Yards released a new video for “My Country”? Oh, I must watch that immediately!

 

Ah, much better!

 

 

Starstruck by Family?

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Is it possible to be a star struck goober to a family member?

Recently my cousin Merrill, a.k.a the woman behind Tune-Yards, performed on the Jimmy Kimmel show. OH. MY. GOSH! I’m over here swooning like a pubescent giggly teen in love with Justin Bieber….OK maybe I’m not quite that bad, but I am quite amazed by her.

Not expecting to get a reply, I sent her a text an hour or so before Jimmy Kimmel Live aired. Being completely awesome she did reply to me, sending me in another tail-spin of swoons. OK, I acknowledge I’m being goofy, but I’m just so impressed by her and the fact that she’s being invited onto late night shows, and selling out concerts all over! Not to mention Time Magazine and Rolling Stone both recognized her as having one of the top albums of the year!

The thing about her is that while she is a genius and an amazing musician, she’s also completely humble. I’m just her crazy little Kentucky cousin who has seen roughly zilch of the world and she still replies to my texts and emails. She takes the time to talk to me and the rest of our crazy family when we go to her concerts.

She is on the cusp of greatness, and there isn’t anyone in the world who deserves it more than her.

Here she is on the Jimmy Kimmel show!

Tune-Yards

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Forgive me for a moment while I shamelessly plug my amazing cousin Merrill, AKA the brilliant mastermind behind Tune-Yards.

I took this picture in Chicago - May 2011

She has been plugging away for a few years, and 2011 seems to have been a great one for her. She released her second album, w h o k i l l earlier this year and it is doing very well! She has traveled extensively across America and the world, selling out shows all over. It’s incredibly exciting to watch her fan base grow from small shows to sold out venues.

Earlier this year she even performed on the Jimmy Fallon show. She was supposed to do the David Letterman show this month but she’s been under the weather. However, she’s scheduled to perform on Jimmy Kimmel in January!  I just can’t get over it. I’m ready to quit my day job and become her groupie!  My husband, cousin, and best friend did chase her down three or four blocks in Nashville, TN once, so I think I have good practice at being her groupie…

Merrill starts her songs by looping a drum beat and then adding vocal loops, ukulele, and bass played by her boyfriend Nate. Although Tune-Yards isn’t exactly mainstream music, she has been getting amazing reviews from very reputable sources – Rolling Stone and The New Yorker to name a couple.

Recently Time Magazine released their list of top 10’s for the year. w h o k i l l came in at #6! Time also listed the single “Gangsta” as the #6 song of the year. Rolling Stone released their top 50 albums of the year, and Tune-Yards came in at #13, while the first single from the album, “Bizness”, was listed as #32 from the top 50 singles of the year.

4 star review in Rolling Stone magazine!

Her songs have been featured on TV as well. “Fiya”, from her first album Bird-Brains was used in a Blackberry commercial. And along with being Time’s #6 song of the year, “Gangsta” has been in an episode of the show Weeds and also The Good Wife.

I once  read a review somewhere (and I’m sorry, I can’t remember where) that said something along the lines that a first listen of Tune-Yards may seem like too much noise at once, but listen to it again and again and it will start to sound like something that belongs on the radio. I completely agree with this. While the songs are full of different loops and layers that it might feel like too much, but listen to it a second time – it will all start to make sense.

Here are a couple of videos. The first is the official video for “Bizness”. The second is a live video of “Gangsta” – it’s so fun watching her build her song out of loops of drums and her voice! If you feel in the mood to search for more songs, some of my favorites are “Real Live Flesh” and “Powa”.


I know one thing is for sure, being completely amazing and making funny faces is something that definitely runs in the family!