Originally published on Thu March 29, 2012 12:33 pm
Merrill Garbus, the woman behind tUnE-yArDs, began as a solo act, and her talent practically explodes out of every performance. She commands any space, especially from behind a set-up of a tom and snare drum, a ukulele, and her bare feet atop the loop pedals from which she builds her compositions. Every sound that Garbus weaves into her songs is so deliberately placed that "experimental" seems too nonchalant a word.
SuperHeavy's credentials don't read much like those of most new bands. Its members boast 11 Grammy Awards between them, legendary parents, record sales in the millions and multiple Academy Awards for film scoring. And, on top of that, the band's existence was kept a secret until May 2011.
An atmosphere of tension surrounded The Rolling Stones when the band got into the studio to record Some Girls, its 16th U.S. release, in 1978. Not only did the group worry that the new waves of disco and punk threatened to pass it by, but Keith Richards was awaiting a serious heroin-trafficking court date that threatened to put him and the group out of commission. The Stones were in trouble.
For musicians performing behind Bob Boilen's desk at the NPR Music offices, there's often an inverse relationship between professional accomplishment and the amount of time required to set up. For new bands still finding their way, pre-show preparation can be a numbing chore of positioning effects pedals and rehearsing song after song before the cameras start rolling.