WhoKill

There are 10 songs on the second album by Oakland's Merrill Garbus, the 32-year-old singer who records as Tune-Yards. But it seems like there are 200: whokill overflows with hip-hop, reggae, Afrobeat and funky noise freakouts — plus ukulele riffs, fluttering doo-wop vocals and what sounds like a percussion orchestra composed of pots and pans. It all hangs together thanks to Garbus' voice, which slides seamlessly from Joplin-esque howls to delicate coos. She shapes her left-brain collages into protest anthems ("My Country"), lullabies ("Wooly Wolly Gong") and a pummeling jam, "Gangsta," which seems to be about white hipsters who want to be black. And she's pop-savvy enough to turn her artsiest flights into hooks. "I'm a new kind of woman," she sings in "Killa." No arguing with that.

Listen to "Gangsta":

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From The Archives Issue 1129: April 28, 2011