For a natural sloth-type, I can be quite ambitious. I have so many things I like to do and want to do, from something as simple as cleaning my GODDAMN DESK to much more elaborate creative projects. Some of them, with focus and intent, actually get done and some of them like the desk, well…maybe tomorrow. I admire anyone that can fight off the Sloth Demon and a host of other evil insidious creatures to make the effort to Start, Do, and Complete under their own steam. That said, I bet I’d get my desk cleaned if an angry mob were surrounding me with poisoned spears.

Anyway, my DIY hero today is one Merrill Garbus, otherwise known in the musical world as Tune-Yards. She uses a funky capitalization for that moniker but Word doesn’t like it and I am clearly too lazy to fix it here. I heard this song on SIRIUS XMU about a month ago and it caught my ear big time. Hmmmm, I said to myself, this sounds like a jazzy Roberta Flack in a low-fi indie band! I like incongruities a whole lot, as well as ukuleles and really cool melodies, which “Sunlight” has. It builds nicely; the strong and confident vocals hold it together, all in a lovely distorted soaring mess.

So I figure, OK, I will look into this band. To my delight, this is what I discover: Tune-Yards album “Bird-Brains” is just and only Ms. Garbus AND the entire album was recorded on a hand-held Sony digital voice recorder and mixed and mastered with the free audio computer program Audacity! Well, that is audacity indeed, and I love it. Garbus then released the album completely on her own as well, with a “pay what you like” donation set up on her website. Word-of-mouth spread about the project, she found some others to play live with, and the album was picked up by Marriage/4D Records last spring. Hot damn.

I like what she says about it: “the sense that I had complete power and ownership over the whole thing, no matter where it went, no matter who listened, was really important to me.”

When you have that kind of freedom, you aren’t breaking your bank account over it, and you are willing to just throw it out there and be happy with whatever happens to it, you really can give yourself the space to do what you want with your ideas. “Bird-Brains” is a triumph in that. It is also at times indulgent – it goes on a bit long, overuses the same format and construction, and some of the spontaneity probably made for some choices that did not benefit some of the tracks as creatures with a forever-life, as songs are. It is not always an easy listen, but it is certainly interesting. Would it have been a better record, better songs, with a 100K budget on a major label? I don’t think so, and that is a compliment.

What makes this different than a billion other artists with a laptop is Garbus’ talent and confidence. I think it is marvelous that her work is getting the recognition it deserves, and thank her for poking my internal Sloth as well. I think she gets people to think about music and production and business in a new way, which is so needed. Garbus is headed out for more live performances soon, and if I could attend I would bring her a shiny new set of uke strings and some freshly-baked brownies, with love. And then I would ask her if she could help me clean my desk.