In an indie scene clogged with lo-fi solo operators, Merrill Garbus has started to establish herself as the type of musician who considers fuzzy audio as an optional means rather than a goal in itself. Not content to just hang around on the ground floor of four-track hiss-purveyors, Garbus tUnE-yArDs followed up 2009s Dictaphone-recorded BiRd-BrAiNs with the deliriously hooky w h o k i l l, a somewhat cleaner-sounding studio effort. But dont expect a tamer approach: the albums new songs actually reinforce and expand the breadth of her idiosyncratic energy instead of sandblasting it smooth. Her song-building process arose from her live show, which expands her songs into process works, assembling loops to construct the songs in progress before letting them charge out full force. It shows in intricately woven cuts like the loping funk of Es-So and the pared-back Afropop-via-Joni guitars of Riotriot, which establish a post-genre eclecticism without letting the seams of influence show too prominently. And her unpretentiously defiant personality is evident throughout whether its joyous or frustrated, standing out on the chorus of breakout track Bizness (dont take my life away) and trumping any scenester jockeying or hype-based reactionary panic that might surround her indie-pop ascent. With Buke & Gass. (Photo by Chrissy Piper)
Sun., May 8, 7 p.m., 2011
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