Sunday, June 19, 2005

A GREAT AMERICAN BAND: YO LA TENGO!

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L to R: James McNew, Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan
(photo by Dennis Kleiman)

"It never really strikes us that we're being so, so incredibly obscure that we can't be figured out. I always find that as surprising."- Ira Kaplan(MAGNET magazine, issue #19)

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Yo La Tengo is another fine band who records for the independent Matador label that is also home to Interpol, The New Pornographers, Guided By Voices/Robert Pollard, Chavez, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Cat Power, Pavement/Stephen Malkmus, Belle and Sebastian, Soft Boys, Mission of Burma and Mogwai, among others. As I wrote to my friend David about YLT's new anthology CD, "I think it contains what may simply be some of the very best American homegrown music from the past twenty years. It's honest, it's mellow, it's noisy, it's totally cool, it's trippy, and it gets under your skin, like something that lives and breathes."

The following is from the Matador Records website at http://www.matadorrecords.com/yo_la_tengo/biography.html :

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"Matador Records is proud to announce the release of 'Prisoners Of Love: A Smattering of Scintillating Senescent Songs 1985-2003' from Yo La Tengo, a career-spanning 26 songs spread over 2 CDs, or 42 songs on 3 CDs. The two CD version crams together previously released highlights from Yo La Tengo’s pre-Matador tenure along with the hottest moments from their second decade in showbiz. The third disc is the sort of rarities collection that will have you wondering why we bothered to do a two-disc version. And it’s all beautifully packaged with liner notes from Byron Coley and former Yo La Tengo tour manager, Joe Puleo.

"Yo La Tengo’s place in rock history is unique. The personal and musical partnership of Ira Kaplan (guitars/vocals/keyboards) and Georgia Hubley (drums/vocals), with the addition of James McNew (bass & more) in the early 90s, has been one of the most intimate and secure musical alliances in history. Few bands in memory dare to experiment quite so widely with such casual audacity. From screeching art-rock and jangling pop songs to electronic soundscapes and hushed lullabies, Yo La Tengo’s music explores the range of musical history without ever sounding less than modern.

"It isn’t their place to call themselves The Greatest Band On Earth but it is ours. Yo La Tengo’s live shows are electrifying events, never the same as the last, and it’s onstage that their dynamism is most visceral. Over the years, they have expanded their basic guitar/drums/bass line-up by adding banks of keyboards and additional percussion. Their vast cache of originals often take unexpected forms, and as Spin said recently, "their covers range from the Beach Boys to Sun Ra and virtually never suck."

"The band have played with such influences as Ray Davies, Jad Fair, Robyn Hitchcock, Neil Innes, and members of the Sun Ra Arkestra. There are few other bands that can lay claim to their own eight-day festival. Yo La Tengo's Hanukkah shows at Maxwell’s, in their hometown of Hoboken, have become legendary, gathering friends, comedians and the occasional hero to share the stage during the festive season. Guests have included Conor Oberst, Laura Cantrell, Gilbert Gottfried, Calexico, Wreckless Eric, Janeane Garofalo, Richard Hell, Jobriath, and many others.

"Another annual tradition is the WFMU fundraiser, where they play any and all requests on Tom Sharplings's 'Best Show on WFMU'; tune in for the 2005 bash on March 15 at 8-11pm EST. Last year Yo La Tengo wrote two soundtracks for the Sundance-selected films Game 6 (directed by Michael Hoffman, written by Don DeLillo) and Junebug (directed by Phil Morrison). In other movie-related news, they are resurrecting 'The Sounds Of Science' performances that debuted in 2002. For these special shows, the band plays original accompanying music for the remarkable underwater films of French documentarist Jean Painlevé."

You can read reviews of all their other Matador CDs there.

David Riposa has written a nice review of the "Prisoners Of Love" anthology at http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/record-reviews/y/yo-la-tengo/prisoners-of-love.shtml .

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Also, YLT's official website is at http://www.yolatengo.com/ Enjoy!

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2 Comments:

Blogger Howard Davis said...

Yo La Tengo is one of the best ever. I have been a huge fan of them since 1990 when I saw them play in my student union. The album, Painful, is among my Top 10 of all time.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Cool, Howard! Thanks for the tip!

I have "I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One", "Ride The Tiger", "Genius + Love" and "Electr-o-Pura" but after getting "Prisoners Of Love" I know I need to get more of their earlier material.

I tend to like their drones the best, but their melodic stuff is also great. I agree with one reviewer who said they tend to take a jazz musician's approach to what they do. So much creativity, and so much of it seems spontaneous. I would love to see them play sometime!

1:00 PM  

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