tUnE-yArDs is the moniker of Oakland-based musician Merrill Garbus (b. 1979 in Connecticut, United States). To date, she has two full-length studio albums and is currently signed to the British independent record label 4AD. She was formerly a member of Sister Suvi.
Her debut album Bird-Brains was first released on limited edition vinyl and cassette in June 2009, via the Portland-based imprint Marriage Records. In July 2009, it was announced that tUnE-yArDs had signed to 4AD, and a limited edition pressing of BiRd-BrAiNs was released on August 17, 2009.
A full worldwide release followed on November 16, 2009 (and November 17th in North America). The autumn 2009 pressing was remastered at Abbey Road Studios by Christian Wright, and includes two new bonus tracks: "Want Me To" and "Real Live Flesh."
BiRd-BrAiNs was entirely self-produced and recorded, with Garbus utilizing a hand-held digital voice recorder, ukulele, some noisy off-balance drums, and produced using shareware mixing software. Garbus described her sound as "a patchwork of sound snippets, of history in a present tense. It is a composer’s commitment to the preservation of stories, however small and unassuming."
A second album w h o k i l l was released on April 19, 2011, preceded by the single "Bizness". It was produced by Garbus and engineered by Eli Crews at New, Improved Studios in Oakland, California. Applying the live approach to her studio work for the first time, Garbus works with bass player Nate Brenner, who co-wrote some of the album’s songs. Comparing the act to Sonic Youth, Frontier Psychiatrist said, "if BiRd-BrAiNs was Garbus’ EVOL, a record bursting with musical ideas that attempted to subvert the notion of song, w h o k i l l is her Sister, a record that embraces the traditional pop song as a vehicle to convey those ideas." Garbus’ song "Fiya" is featured on a 2010 commercial for the Blackberry Torch.
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