by Rachel Swan
And lest you think that was an easy victory for local worldbeat musician Merrill Garbus, consider who she beat: PJ Harvey, Tom Waits, Kanye and Jay-Z, Drake, and Adele, to name just a few. Or consider where she was as recently as a year ago: virtually unknown, jamming with free-jazz musicians in warehouses, and headlining shows at Mama Buzz Cafe. Now famous for her face paint and guttural voice, Garbus clinched the win for best album with 1,645 points and 135 mentions from music critics throughout the country. Her debut record whokill was a veritable smash hit, garnering accolades from many press outlets (including this one) when it came out on British label 4AD last March. It's since propelled Garbus and her rotating cast of backup musicians (Nate Brenner on bass, usually accompanied by two saxophones) to high-profile festival gigs, TV appearances, and magazine "hot lists." We're extremely proud to call her one of our own.