Tune-Yards, Aleks & the Drummer | Chopin Theatre | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Tune-Yards, Aleks & the Drummer 

When: Thu., Oct. 15, 10 p.m. 2009
Price: $8, limited $5 tickets
Merrill Garbus worked as a nanny on Martha's Vineyard during the two and a half years she spent amassing the raw material that makes up Bird-Brains, her debut as Tune-Yards, using a handheld digital voice recorder. (She originally released the album herself, but it's been picked up by Marriage Records and will soon get a large-scale reissue from 4AD.) She built the album's lo-fi pop-folk on her laptop, stitching together her voice, her ukulele, and scraps of free-range noise atop layers of rhythmic loops—including rickety percussion, field recordings, conversation, and what sounds like a windup toy, sometimes played backward or distorted with overloaded-microphone crunch. Though her songs tend to wander around—her odd melodies tumble and leap, and her singing switches unpredictably from childlike to strident to goofy to menacing—they still manage to read as songs, sometimes even pretty catchy ones. I don't buy the PR-driven attempts to spin her as an outsider artist, but she's definitely a musician with enough talent and smarts to do without a rule book. —Miles Raymer

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