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BiRd-BrAiNs

14 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 17, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Merrill Garbus' aka Tune-Yards is as experimental as it gets. Producing a debut album in Lo-fi is about as risky a move as you could imagine. She joins bands such as the Vivian Girls in using the intentionally underwhelming technique. If you don't already know, Lo-fi is when the standard of recording is intentionally reduced to achieve a particular sound. This sound can be created using numerous techniques, however Garbus decided to create this album on a laptop and some free software, before being released on a 'pay as you like' basis. Quite a way from X factor isn't it? This is an album that contains numerous styles and sounds. Hatari for example begins with African chanting before switching in a split second to the sound of ukulele. The ukulele is a permanent fixture throughout Bird Brains but it's at its best on News. Providing the bedrock for the track is a constant drumming that merges perfectly with a set of yodelling vocals. In-between tracks the listener is often greeted by the voice of children as well as random sounds recorded in Garbus' home. These techniques only add to the 'at home' theme of this album. Despite the crazy experimenting throughout the album, there are tracks which display orthodox song writing patterns. An example of this is Fiya, containing a very Elvis 'you were always on my mind' it's easily the most pop track on the album and is also where the production comes off best. Throughout this album you feel like you and the artist are alone in a room while she plays the album to you for the first time. It sounds improvised yet fresh and contains brilliant drum beats as well as an array of atmospheric vocals. A great example of home recording and low-fi production.

1. For You
2. Sunlight
3. Lions
4. Hatari
5. News
6. Jamaican
7. Jumping Jack
8. Little Tiger
9. Safety
10. Fiya
11. Synonynonym
12. Want Me To Bonus Track
13. Real Live Flesh Bonus Track

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 17, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: 2009
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: 4ad Records
  • ASIN: B002M3GPUC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,126 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matthew D. Jasper on December 23, 2009
Format: Audio CD
She's amazing in concert and on disc. The songs are innovative and passionate wonders of uke & vocal loop wonder--though she exists nicely outside of loops as well. I think of bands such as Cornershop & Pram and even Stereolab--though she's her own very much different thing. There seem to be African influences as well. The playful brilliance on display here floor me. Songs of unrequited love and palpable longing and lions! Her voice creates moods that endure long after the music has stopped. There's a sort of maternal warmth here as well as she mixes in loops of children screaming or offering their opinions on the freshness of blueberries.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tiny tunes on December 23, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Though not a stocking stuffer, and like MIA from 2005, you won't hear anything like this in 2009. I wonder what a wealth of production will do her? There are Captain Beefheart moments as she often chooses to abandon melody for the muse, or a beat summoned from under a pillow. Other moments sound like an unearthed Harry Smith 45. It might test your limits, and you won't choose it for the dance floor, but open your mind and your intellect will follow. It'll last longer than most holiday gifts.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Becky D on February 1, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is one of the most interesting albums I've heard in a long time. The songs are a wonderful mix of African and Latin influenced jazzy/rock often with undertones of slinky Portishead-sounding beats. And the lyrics are sometimes haunting, sometimes funny, and mostly very catchy. Overall, I love how this album takes from different forms of music to form something very new and very creative.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cheff Jeff on August 6, 2012
Format: MP3 Music
For the slightly adventurous, this is a wonderful work. Very raw and simplistic even compared to her seond and slightly more accessible "Who Kill" but it still abounds with creativity and raw talent. Read about Merrill Garbus to learn about her interesting recording and performance methods (she doesn't do anything recorded that she can't do live, and doesn't use any pre-recorded samples rather creating loops on the spot). OK, so a lot of the stuff is a bit harsh and difficult to listen to but I find it worth the effort.
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By Scott on July 30, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Whokill, the Tuneyards' sophomore record has been getting a lot of attention, but I think this stellar debut is the better record. This album is unlike anything you'll ever hear. It's like the sunny, cheerful revival of the long forgotten trip hop genre. Every song is like a junkyard nursery rhyme performed as a valentine. They're fun, vibrant, creative, and extremely catchy. The beats and rhythms are primal and infectious and the atmosphere is like someone teaching children how to tame a bluebird. This is an amazing record. Highlights include: Sunlight, Lions, Hatari, Jumping Jack, and Fiya
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Format: Audio CD
Bird-Brains is one of my favorite albums of all time. Merrill was clearly bursting with ideas, and almost all of them still come across as fresh with each listen. Hatari, Lions, Fiya, Sunlight all cause me to sing at the top of my lungs in the car. The only downside for me was the clear limitations of the microphone that she used to record this album, the strength of her voice causing the mic to fold, and the drums absolutely destroying it. The album was re-mastered at a later date, but the distortion is still somewhat painful to listen to on headphones or in the car.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on December 2, 2009
Format: MP3 Music
The CD does not do Tune-Yards justice. She has a fantastic voice and is very talented but this only really comes across live. She was phenomenal live and she had the audience going nuts for her. All of the songs sounded much better and were lot more fun to listen to. If you ever get the chance to see her don't miss it.
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