tUnE-yArDs

Tune in to hear the unique polyrhythms and vocal experiments of Merril Garbus’ veritable one-woman band tUnE-yArDs.

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The music industry now has a powerful new ally in its long-running fight against illegal file sharing: your friendly neighborhood internet service provider. After years of on-and-off negotiation with the RIAA and MPAA, the major U.S. ISPsAT&T, Verizon, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner – have voluntarily agreed to police users they suspect of downloading illegal material (or as the ISPs are spinning it, educate them). Illegal downloaders will receive a series of warnings before their internet connections are slowed to a crawl. U2 manager Paul McGuinness, an early advocate of ISPs taking on greater responsibility for online piracy, applauded the move. But Greg is wary. Now that ISPs have taken up the anti-piracy banner, will the U.S. government be next?

The music industry has yet another reason to celebrate. For the first time since 2004, music sales are up. (And sure, only by 1%, but still!) While sales by superstar acts like Adele and Eminem did their part, the real surprise was the spike in catalog sales. Seems people just can’t seem to get enough of that Credence Clearwater Revival.

tUnE-yArDs

tUnE-yArDs’s second album w h o k i l l made it onto both Jim and Greg’s lists of the Best Albums of 2011 (so far). This week, Jim and Greg are in the studio with the creative force behind the band, New England native Merrill Garbus. Garbus has come a long way since her days as a professional puppeteer, when she performed for modest crowds with the indie act Sister Suvi and lived with her parents. This month the Oakland-based musician will be one of the most anticipated acts at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Like one of her early influences, Paul Simon, Garbus incorporates plenty of African polyrhythms and vocal textures into her music, and she doesn’t shy away from discussions about cultural appropriation. She also takes huge risks as a live performer, looping her voice, drums, and ukulele onstage to become a veritable one-woman band. She performs the feat live in the studio, taking Jim and Greg through the beginning of Powa. With the backing of bassist Nate Brenner and a hefty horn section, she also performs Doorstep and the band’s breakout song Bizness.

Jim

Jim riffs on tUnE-yArDs’ love for African rhythms for his Desert Island Jukebox pick. It reminds us of yet another Western band to put African beats to its own creative use. This week, it’s the British new wave group Bow Wow Wow. Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood created the band in 1980, but were out a lead singer until they discovered 14-year-old Annabella Lwin working at a dry cleaner and singing along to Stevie Wonder. Jim’s pick, C·30 C·60 C·90 Go makes ample use of the then-popular Burundi Beat, a rhythm cribbed from a French anthropologist’s recording of native Burundian percussionists. Tracked down years later, the original Burundian musicians singled out Bow Wow Wow for special props. Sure, they stole the beat, but they also gave it a new spin.

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