January 15, 2013
Fade is the most direct, personal and cohesive album of Yo La Tengo's career. Recorded with John McEntire at Soma Studios in Chicago, it recalls the sonic innovation and lush cohesion of career high points like 1997‘s I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One and 2000’s …And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out. The album is a tapestry of fine melody and elegant noise, rhythmic shadowplay and shy-eyed orchestral beauty, songfulness and experimentation.
But Fade attains a lyrical universality and hard-won sense of grandeur that’s rare even for this band. It weaves themes of aging, personal tragedy and emotional bonds into a fully-realized whole that recalls career-defining statements like Blood on the Tracks, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, or Al Green's Call Me.
"Nothing ever stays the same / Nothing’s explained," the band sing in unison on the reflective opening track "Ohm". "We try not to lose our hearts / Not to lose our minds." It’s a straightforward sentiment for a band who prefer private intimation to forceful expression. It makes the song’s resistance to resignation feel that much more earned.
This is the first time Yo La Tengo has collaborated with producer John McEntire, best known for his work in Tortoise as well as for recording such artists as Bright Eyes, Stereolab and Teenage Fanclub. He has helped the band hone a set of songs as multifaceted as they are seamless -- flowing from the low-key shimmy of "Well You Better" to the muted motorik kick of "Stupid Things" to the cozy distortion of "Paddle Forward," and right through to the cagey groove, horns and strings of the gorgeous album closer, "Before We Run," in which Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan sing "Take me to your distant lonely place / Take me out beyond mistrust."
Fade's emotional core sits at its very center with two songs, one sung by Kaplan and one by Hubley. The tender, raw, Kaplan-sung ballad "I'll Be Around" pivots around a circular guitar figure set against James McNew's pulsating bassline. The song's simplicity and starkness stand like a beacon against the emptiness. The following track, "Cornelia and Jane," features Hubley gently singing, "I hear them whispering, they analyze / But no one knows what's lost in your eyes / Sending the message that doesn't get to you / How can we care for you?" supported by whispering cushions of horns and delicate vocal harmonies. The effect is both heartbreaking and reassuring.
Yo La Tengo is one of the most beloved and respected bands in America. For nearly thirty years, Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew have enjoyed success entirely on their own terms – playing the world’s best concert halls, museums, and dives, dominating critics’ lists, doing a Simpsons theme, playing the Velvet Underground in “I Shot Andy Warhol,” sharing stages with some of the most important musicians of our time, and even creating a holiday tradition onto themselves with their yearly series of Hanukkah shows at Hoboken, New Jersey’s legendary club Maxwells, from which they’ve donated hundreds of thousands to charity.
September 8, 2009
Most of us fans have a silly tendency to look at our favorite musicians as being the smartest people in the world. Within their lyrics we know we’ll find the answers to everything, if we just look hard enough. In truth, most musicians are no smarter than any of us—often much less so. You can find many books on this subject.
Georgia, Ira and James of Yo La Tengo are exceptions to this rule, and Popular Songs, their 12th (or 14th, depending on what and how you count) album is the proof. Because when this new and dramatically unimproved world puts the hard questions to Yo La Tengo, they go Socratic as hell, swaggeringly, reassuringly, honestly telling us that all they know is they know nothing. They do not know why that sunbeam comes through the window when you are determined to sulk; they do not know just how are we going to make it, anyway?
Still, Yo La Tengo are nothing if not attentive: They do know that, if you are hearing this record and reading these words (preferably both), you are still here, and they are too, and so—Popular Songs, to resanctify us and all our foibles and goodnesses. They might’ve called it Manual for the People, or perhaps even Carry On, Oy! But it’s good they didn’t.
Popular Songs demonstrates that everything said about Yo La Tengo in the past is still true, only more so. Now, almost any song can sound like Yo La Tengo, provided it’s Yo La Tengo playing it:
The strings-and-keyboards orchestrations of the opener, “Here to Fall,” on which Ira offers the new best articulation of what it means to love; the Clean-feeling pop of “Avalon or Someone Very Similar,” unburdened by gravity or friction; Georgia’s aching “By Two’s,” a dream-machine in motion, a warm shiver for your cold, still nights. And that’s just the first three tunes!
What of the garagey rave-up of “Nothing to Hide”, the funky but unfunklike “Periodically Double or Triple”, and the classic-pop duet, “If It’s True”? Which isn’t to even mention the gently ambling “I’m On My Way”, containing some of the album’s smartest, simplest lyrics, which rolls into a duo of romantic wedding-ready tunes alternately fronted by Georgia (“When It’s Dark”) and Ira (“All Your Secrets”).
Then fans of Yo La Tengo’s well-established habit of stretching out will be enthralled by the simmering, sultry “More Stars Than There Are in Heaven” and the hypnotic ebbing flow of “The Fireside”, these final two epics totalling 20+ minutes of the most beautiful, obsessive Yo La Tengo music ever put to tape. (The format-savvy may even resolve themselves with the coda di tutti frutti, “And The Glitter Is Gone”.)
This annum ridiculus isn’t even half over and Yo La Tengo have: Placed a song on the widely liked Dark Was the Night benefit compilation; released that Condo Fucks record of covers; composed the score to the film Adventureland; taken their “Freewheeling Yo La Tengo” tour to select lucky European locations; performed their umpteenth request-any-song three-hour set for WFMU’s annual marathon; compiled one of Merge Records’ anniversary CDs (Georgia); played on the forthcoming A-Bones album (Ira); brought Dump back to the stage (James).
Down to their fingernails, Yo La Tengo understand that the dichotomy has never been love & hate—this life is about love & fear. And fear makes you run and hide, sit on your ass, do nothing but be consumed by it. To restate the obvious, Yo La Tengo are not afraid. They walk bravely forward, into the unknown, hand in hand. And 12 (or 14) albums in, they may just be hitting their stride.
||I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
September 12, 2006
Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew sound like no other band. This is not because they're contrarians, but because they're artists. I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass has everything that ever made Yo La Tengo great, but elevated to new heights, from the remarkable orchestral chamber piece "Black Flowers" to the garage-punk rave-up "Watch Out For Me Ronnie." If there's one constant about Yo La Tengo, it's that this famously restless band continues to broaden its horizons.
I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass is an album that delights in being an album. This is no mere loud followed by soft merry-go-round, but a subtle parade. Bookended by very different but equally intense ten-minute-plus guitar epics, the set has dramatic arcs that don't all build in expected ways. After a dense thicket of forest they may find a clearing, stop for a picnic, but then fall asleep, dreaming away as day turns to night. A violin (played by David Mansfield, of Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue) threads its way through the heartbreakingly fragile "I Feel Like Going Home," mirroring the longing in Georgia's vocal, after which "Mr. Tough" struts in on a funky piano riff, with Ira and James singing in falsetto about the transformative power of music.
As much as the full album experience is about the big picture, Yo La Tengo are aware of the small moments. In fact, it is the slivers that make the band so hard to describe: The ambient static in the haunting instrumental "Daphnia"; Georgia's dramatic reading of the vaguely "Autumn Sweater"-esque "The Room Got Heavy"; the way the drums, bass, and tambourine turn themselves inside-out in the intro of "Pass The Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind".
The band's quest for musical release is inextricably tied to a sense of community. It's suffused with the hope borne of realizing that if music can transcend the fractious or mundane realities of life, then we can and must rise above the troubles that divide us (see "Mr Tough"). They embody these ideas in dealings with fellow musicians, and have worked with an incredibly diverse range of artists, from Jad Fair to Ray Davies. Their week of Hanukkah shows at Maxwell's has become an annual Hoboken tradition and raised tens of thousands for local charities, as scores of guests take the stage, stepping into a community forged around the gentle yet sturdy triumvirate that is Yo La Tengo. Similarly, the band's Swing State Tour in fall 2004 encapsulated much of what the band is about, involving tons of friends, a wild array of songs, a radically-different three-hour set each night, and political motivation with little to no actual politics at the shows except by implication.
It's been said that while Yo La Tengo is not a jazz combo, they think like jazz musicians, and indeed their penchant for surprise stretches beyond their well-documented work with free-jazz ensembles Other Dimensions In Music and the Sun Ra Arkestra. Their annual covers-by-request WFMU fundraiser gets a huge audience and lots of laughs (and a CD compilation released earlier this year as Yo La Tengo Is Murdering The Classics), but is also a shocking display of improvisational skill (and ridiculously encyclopedic knowledge of pop history). In July 2004, they performed at the Anthology Film Archives in NYC, improvising a soundtrack to a live light show by artists Joshua White and Gary Panter, which led to their using a Panter painting as the cover of I Am Not Afraid.
Clearly, Yo La Tengo act like no other band either. Since their last record, Summer Sun, they've also scored four films ("Junebug," "Game 6," "Old Joy," and the forthcoming "Shortbus") and turned what could have been an inspired one-off - their score to the experimental underwater films of Jean Painleve - into a well-received CD release and frequent repeat performance. They recorded the Simpsons theme for one episode, and played on the recent Gilmore Girls finale. Anderson Cooper loves 'em.
As a trio, Yo La Tengo are a complex engine, but they're a completely natural one, tearing through the underbrush like a fully focused prehistoric creature. As much as spontaneity is built into the construction of their sonic world, everything is considered. From whispered ballads to punkish verve, from intricate arrangements to the heady allure of happenstance, Yo La Tengo - as their name suggests -have it all. They manage the near impossible of satisfying both their quest for the loving embrace of their unshakable musical character, and the tirelessness that has kept them from repeating themselves.
Whether one thinks of life as being brief or interminable, the clock is always ticking. We must be ever grateful for any endeavors which distort our sense of time. That is one of the many things that Yo La Tengo do.
A Smattering Of Scintillating Senescent Songs, 1985-2003
March 22, 2005
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
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.
April 8, 2003
of rocks last true visionary bands." -- USA
The amplifiers that had laid in wait at the Yo La Tengo practice
pad for the last eighteen months warm up to a sunrise lit
from underneath on a Hoboken sound stage made up of remnants
of Yma Sumac's "Xtabay" and the orchestration of
the Mingus Dynasty. The credits roll over "Beach Party
Tonight," the lead cut from Yo La Tengo's twelfth record
'Summer Sun', which pulls you into the scenery with its gentle,
yet foreboding, tentacles. Careful with that beach ball, Eugene,
as the shards of glass tempered to look like sand rip up your
heels as you enter what could be the darkest summer surf record
ever recorded. A backdrop of winter storms paints nearly every
reference to summer, sunshine, and good will towards men (with
lyrics "you blame the sun as the cause of the shadows
on the wall" in the Gilberto Gil stretch of "Season
of the Shark" to the "summer stays too long"
refrain in the sixth cut "Tiny Birds," as voiced
by bassist James Mcnew). The pared-down and laid-bare instrumentation
propping up hushed vocals, like an unseen undertow, may pin
you down drowning if you stumble in unaware.
The Cherry Chapstick groupies and pud-waxing newsies will
ask, where is the roar of the guitar? The whir of saturated
Dean Markley strings feeding in and on themselves? The ba-ba-ba-ba's
or blankets of shorting-out chords to cushion the summer fall?
In their stead, hot ass, is the stripped-down Atari 2600 silent
film score that made its first appearance on 'And Then Nothing
Turned Itself Inside-Out', with piano draping the canvas where
its cousin used to reside. We suggest you get accustomed to
the Georgia and Ira that choose to take most turns on 'Summer
Sun' unaccompanied by the other, with their vocals pushed
to the forefront (save for the Harmon mute Shaggs rhythm of
the 10-minute-plus epic "Let's Be Still" which includes
the two of them doped out & singing in unison!) to reveal
a more vulnerable batch of songs bold in their Yo La Tengo-trademarked
lack of artifice. 'Summer Sun' casts its net with a gilded
crush that finds itself filthy with blood and mud as it digs
to the heart of matters, matters usually reserved for great
cinema or short stories. You, the listener, will find them
shelved neatly in digital 1's and 0's or reeling on an analog
double LP... and then the summer comes undone.
Lonely boys who spent their allowances on 45 singles
will enjoy playing spot the reference, ranging from the Isley
Brothers 19twentyfirst century drawl of "Nothing But
You And Me," the Roland Kirk punchline of "How to
Make a Baby Elephant Float," Ira's impersonations of
Rod McKuen, and someone pulling a Lionel Hampton, not to mention
that bitch motherfucker with the train tracks in Nashville
flying his moped across the rails only to be caught in the
background of "Moonrock Mambo."
There is still plenty of comedy left in the darker
corners of 'Summer Sun', including references to the bands
favorite chocolate bars, an interpretation of what "Skiffle
Electronica" might sound like, and the first successful
marriage of John Barry & Deodato. (Comedians never win
Oscars, nor Grammys, so keep it quiet.)
Georgia gets the final run in extended-inning play
on the album closer, a cover of Big Star's "Take Care."
A gorgeous farewell to the brothers Wilson, a shout out to
the ailing Dick Dale, a crashing $20 wave to Japanese only
Ventures releases, and a reminder as to why Yo La Tengo remains
one of the few American institutions worth whistling Dixie
about. Thank you America!
- Dennis Callaci, 2003
Yo La Tengo are Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan, and James McNew.
Roy Campbell Jr. (Other Dimensions In Music): trumpet on "Beach
Party Tonight," "Don't Have to Be So Sad,"
"Let's Be Still"
William Parker (ODM): upright bass on "Beach Party Tonight,"
"Nothing But You and Me," "Don't Have to Be
So Sad," "Let's Be Still," and "Take Care"
Daniel Carter (ODM, Test): tenor sax on "Beach Party
Tonight," alto sax on "Don't Have to Be So Sad,"
flute on "Let's Be Still"
Sabir Mateen (Test): alto sax on "Beach Party Tonight,"
tenor on "Don't Have to Be So Sad," flute on "How
to Make a Baby Elephant Float," "Let's Be Still"
Katie Gentile (Special Pillow, Run On): violin on "Tiny
Tim Harris (Special Pillow, Antietam): cello on "Tiny
Paul Niehaus (Lambchop, Calexico): pedal steel guitar on "Take
Produced by Roger Moutenot, recorded at Alex the Great/Nashville
turned itself inside-out
February 22, 2000
. . a Bergman film set in a Hoboken record store: abstract
and intimate, sweetly whispering, raging like a distant thunderstorm."
-- Chris Norris, SPIN Magazine
Jazz critic Whitney Balliett once described jazz as "the sound
of surprise." While Yo La Tengo don't play jazz, the description
applies. For 13 years they have been a remarkably consistent,
almost comforting presence on the American pop scene, yet
we love their genius because they are not afraid to surprise
us. New York magazine calls them "the most dearly treasured
New York rock band of the decade," but Georgia Hubley and
Ira Kaplan have always lived across the river in Hoboken.
Their recording site of preference in recent years is Nashville,
but they're not a country band. Their songs are smashed into
sharp relief with seemingly disparate elements, but always
emerge a beautiful, somehow coherent mess.
Yo La Tengo is not a jazz combo, but they think like jazz
musicians. They constantly redefine their own boundaries,
stretch their songs into new shapes, and often restructure
their old songs into new forms. As rabid fans of music, Yo
La Tengo choose from a wildly diverse selection of covers
(Richard Thompson, Wire, John Cale, The Dead C, The Normal,
Flamin' Groovies, and the Kinks comprise a small sampling)
and make the songs their own, much like Ornette Coleman and
Don Cherry deconstructing "Embraceable You." Like most great
artists, they never regurgitate derivatively, synthesizing
influences into music that only sounds like Yo La Tengo.
Yo La Tengo don't play jazz on their new album, but they play
like jazz players. The now-telepathic interplay of Georgia
Hubley, Ira Kaplan, and James McNew means the trio now approach
their music as one entity; they are solid and powerful, comfortable
enough to allow room for improvisation. Georgia's drumming
is a gentle web, but tensile enough to support sheets of organ
throb and guitar noise. James anchors integral melodies in
ways bassists rarely do. Ira's wild throttling of his guitar
is by now legendary, but his restraint in playing the perfect
few quiet notes keeps the band walking their delicate tightrope
while pushing the music forward. Listening to ATNTIIO, you
get the impression these songs will continue to grow and expand,
even as they've just been committed to tape.
While their colossal sonic achievements are well-documented,
Yo La Tengo's new album is more In A Silent Way than Interstellar
Space: a quietly intense melange of pulsing beats, acoustic
guitar strum, ringing vibraphone and organ washes. Add electric
guitar buzzing underneath dreamy, nearly whispered vocals,
and ATNTIIO is more mood swing than song cycle.
Yo La Tengo have stripped away layers of electric guitar chaos
from their sound. Is it so we can hear their voices? So they
can hear each other? Whatever the reason, Georgia and Ira's
most audible and distinctive vocal performances to date are
genuinely intimate and affecting. The quieter settings allow
other subtle details to emerge: guest Susie Ibarra's percussion
on the first single, "Saturday," high close harmonies swelling
in from nowhere, Hubley's delicate brushwork, the gorgeous
shimmer of vibes and mellotron.
Pop culture references usually abound on Yo La Tengo track
listings, and continue here. "Last Days of Disco" is a modal
pop song, Ira reminiscing about a distant first meeting, his
vocals and guitar cruising lightly over Georgia and James's
polyrhythmic underpinning. "The Crying of Lot G," title suggestive
of notoriously byzantine author Thomas Pynchon, is ironically
the most lyrically naked and literal song on the album. It's
also the most direct paean to the internal ebb and flow of
love they've ever written, with Kaplan speak-singing "You
say all we do is fight, and I think, 'Gee, I don't know if
that's true...'" over an ambient 50's-style weeper. A cover
of disco hitmaker George McRae's "You Can Have it All" follows
and features Hubley sleepily declaring her heart over Kaplan's
AM-radio "ba-ba-da"s ping-ponging in the background and funky
soul string accents (courtesy engineer David Henry and his
cello). The band's approach to disco cheese is loving and
unironic and raises the song above its station in pop's hierarchy;
it could be a Yo La Tengo song, whereas the next song, "Tears
Are In Your Eyes" sounds achingly classic enough to be a cover
of a lost country ballad.
Such are the gifts of Yo La Tengo. They are a pop band, but
don't just write pop songs; they write what can only be described
as Yo La Tengo songs. By not rocking out, Ira, Georgia and
James have made a record which shows how tight-knit a musical
unit the trio have become. They are like a three-cornered
atom harnessing its energy to the point where blinding explosions
are no longer necessary to emanate power.
Jazz critic Nat Hentoff once described jazz as "a continual
autobiography, or rather a continuum of intersecting autobiographies,
one's own and those of the musicians with whom one plays."
Yo La Tengo don't play jazz, but And Then Nothing Turned Itself
Inside-Out is the sound of surprise, and it is the latest
chapter in their fascinating autobiography.
Fair & Yo La Tengo
Strange But True
October 20, 1998
product of a long-rumored collaboration between Half Japanese
vocalist/founder Jad Fair and more-popular-than-Jesus (Jones)
rock trio Yo La Tengo. Recorded throughout the 90s, Jad's
unique worldview combines beautifully with the backdrop provided
by Yo La.
Time: 41 Minutes
Monkey Wallpapers Entire Home
Man Abducted by Aliens for Outer Space Joy Ride
Sports Association Hires Retired English Professor to Name
New Wrestling Holds
Thespian Has Teeth Pulled to Play Newborn Baby in High School
Genius Graduates High School at Top of Her Class
Teen Accidentally Uses Valuable Rare Postage Stamp
Punishes Students with Bad Impressions and Tired Jokes
Grocer Constructs Tiny Mount Rushmore Entirely of Cheese
Reveals Doctor Left Wristwatch Inside Patient
Grandmother Serves Delicious Dessert by Mistake #2
Woman Starts New Career in Monkey Fashions
Circus Strongman Runs for PTA President
School Shop Class Constructs Bicycle Built for 26
Grandmother Serves Delicious Dessert by Mistake #1
Town Saved from Killer Bees by Hungry Vampire Bats
Man Invents Piano with 21 Extra Keys
Chemist Makes Chewing Gum from Soap
Man Claims Monkey Bowled Perfect Game
Scientist Invents Car of the Future
Gears Stick in Reverse, Daring Driver Crosses Town Backwards
Fashion Statement Terrorizes Town
Millionare Fills Potholes with Hundred-Dollar Bills
Can Hear the Heart Beating As One
April 22, 1997
minutes of breath-taking new material recorded under smooth
circumstances in lovely Nashville, TN. This one will without
a doubt appeal to long time Yo La Tengo fans, considering
the fact that this is their very best one yet. The really
good thing, though, is that a lot of people who will buy this
record will do so without knowing that it probably is the
only TRULY GREAT record they will buy in their lives. Until
the next one comes out, of course. (btw, Yo La Tengo still
means "More Ketchup, Bubba" in Spanish.)
FACTS ABOUT YO LA TENGO
Ira Kaplan and drummer/vocalist Georgia Hubley are married.
To each other. We don't know why they don't have the same
last name but that's kind of a personal question and perhaps
you should think of something else to talk about when you
James McNew joined the band in 1991, and is already known
to savvy underground rock fans as the former bassist for
name "Yo La Tengo," when translated into Spanish means "extra
is no musical category called "drone rock," trust us. If
you go into Sam Goody or Musicland and ask where the drone
rock records are you might get beaten up or laughed at.
oft-publicized Yo La Tengo/Pantera feud, which featured
a few years' worth of band members trading barbs in the
music press, was settled. Both groups (now label mates)
participated in a celebrity Pitch & Putt tournament
to benefit the repeal of California's controversial helmet
legislation. While not bikers themselves, Yo La Tengo "have
absolutely nothing against" those who are.
Picture Biography for ICHTHBAO.
Genius + Love = Yo La Tengo
September 10, 1996
28-song compilation of B-sides, outtakes, compilation tracks,
soundtrack stuff hardly anyone heard, and live stuff spread
over two discs (one of 'em all-instrumental) with extensive
liner notes. For hardcore enthusiasts and neophytes just aching
for a confusing introduction.
PSYCHIC PEZ DROP (4/95)
We recorded this one at our practice space for a Duophonic
Super split single with Stereolab to commemorate our gear-fab
UK tour of 1995.
This song goes back to 1986 when it was known to us as "White
Rabbit" which may or may not have had something to do with
us naming our first album Ride the Tiger. We reworked
it for the I Shot Andy Warhol soundtrack. Recorded
at the Magic Shop, produced by Roger Moutenot. Tara Key on
OVER FRISCO (10/89)
Georgia and I started playing this in 1989 on our acoustic
duo tour (oh, how the Timbuk 3 crowd in KC loved us). Gene
Holder played bass and produced the rock version at Water
Music, which was then shelved until we completed it in 1991
for That Is Yo La Tengo.
This Wire song was recorded by Roger Moutenot live at Alex
the Great during Electr-o-pura. Mixed May 1995 by Peter
Walsh at Tin Pan Alley. Listen for James' scream.
PANKY NO HOW (9/89)
Tara helped us with this one, I no longer remember how. Recorded
in the basement of our old house, featuring our microphone-shy
cat on backing vocals. Originally on the 1991 Spanish comp
The Ruta 66 Album.
TO DO (10/89)
Before Arye Gross won our hearts in Ellen he appeared
in a little cinematic treasure called A Matter of Degrees.
And playing very quietly during a scene in a bar was this
tune, produced by Gene at Water Music. That's Gene on bass
and Georgia taking the solo.
SHORT WAVE RADIO PICKS UP MUSIC FROM VENUS (6/94)
One of 16 or so songs we made up and recorded in an afternoon
at Snack Time with Jad Fair singing. Recorded by Fred Brockman.
TO YOU (11-12/94)
Another Electr-o-pura outtake. Produced by Roger and mixed
at Sound on Sound.
Produced very quickly by Kramer at Noise NY and included on
the Homestead comp Human Music (cover art by Georgia).
Remixed in May, 1996 by Peter Walsh at Cherry Bomb. The Man
in Black, Stephan Wichnewski, on bass.
AWAY FROM YOU (1/91)
Recorded at Water Music for That Is Yo La Tengo and
a Bar/None 45. Produced by Gene, who also plays bass. Georgia
on the two-note guitar.
James' first recording with us. Recorded at Fun City by Wharton
Tiers and featuring a guest appearance by Zeena Parkins on
harp (Kramer had sold us some used tape, and there she was).
From Delicacy and Nourishment, Lyrics by Ernest
Noyes Brookings Volume 3.
A SHADOW (1/91)
B-side of "Walking Away from You." Produced by Gene, who also
played the classy lead guitar. Wilbo Wright on upright bass.
SET FREE (4/95)
Outtake from the I Shot Andy Warhol session and no
Entertainment Weekly reader has to ask why. Tara plays
the guitar solo and Roger Moutenot produces.
HARDLY WORKING (2/90)
Georgia, Dave Schramm and I went on Nick Hill's Music Faucet
show and this is the track he chose for the WFMU compilation
They Came, They Saw, They Blocked the Driveway. Later
that night we would back up a phoned-in Daniel Johnston. To
help us prepare, current 'FMU air personality Gaylord Fields
and Maxwell's/Telstar impresario Todd Abramson called up and
sang "Farmer John."
KINDA FATIGUE (2/93)
Fred Brockman recorded this May I Sing With Me revision
at Snack Time for a Radiation (Spain) double 7" compilation
This Is Art (named for graffiti outside our rehearsal
room, and narrowly beating out "Axl Rose--Gay" and "Ira Is
an Uptight Fag").
Dave Schramm moves from lead guitar to organ. Georgia's playing
drums though you may not be able to hear her. Released on
an SOL single without the chitchat and on the Bar/None "Here
Comes My Baby" promo CD just like this.
Recorded on James' birthday by Fred Brockman at Snack Time,
and released on the "From a Motel 6" CD.
GRANDMOTHER'S GIFT, TOO MUCH (PARTS 1 & 2), ONE SELF:
FISH GIRL and ENOUGH (5/94)
All of these were produced by Gene at Water Music for soundtracks
to animated films by Georgia's sister Emily.
A MOTEL 6 (PARTS 1 & 2) (6-8/92)
Two of the Painful demos recorded at Snack Time by
Fred. Part 1 features the guitar riff, later discarded, around
which the song was written. The same riff was the basis for
our earlier song "The Summer" before being similarly excised.
Georgia vents some frustration in the practice room.
WITH THE SHAH (2/93)
This Urinals cover is the first song we ever played live.
This version recorded on the Dump Mobile Unit in the south
of France where Matador sent us to write songs for a proposed
musical based on the popular television program Small Wonder.
Stephan on the fuzz bass. Another selection from the "Here
Comes My Baby" CD.
We gave this to a Japanese fanzine, but I have no memory which
one. The arrangement dates back to our brief incarnation as
a wedding band--we were much better at performing music for
dining pleasure than for dancing pleasure.
Georgia vents some frustration during the recording of Painful.
For all those who have clamored for an alternate take of this
pop confection, the original of which can be found on the
Alias "Upside-Down" CD. Recorded by Adam Lasus at Water Music.
Camp Yo La Tengo
September 19, 1995
Blue Line Swinger," a radically remixed and rebuilt version
of the Electr-o-pura hit
Courtenay," an acoustic version of an even bigger hit from
Electr-o-pura, but Georgia sings this one!
Seem To Make You Mine," a previously unreleased, reverb-heavy
Ameche Plays The Stranger," 9+ minutes of spookyness, one
of the outtakes they shoulda left in.
May 2, 1995
A Matador Filmworks Ltd. Release
Opens April 11th
by Scot Lazeur
Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan and James McNew -- three of independent
filmmaking's mightiest and most uncompromisingly idiosyncratic
talents -- have again combined their formidable talents to
create a unique visual work of enduring strength and beauty.
The collaborative trio share directing, producing and starring
roles in their latest tragicomic epic, Electr-o-pura.
Following its theatrical release this April, Hubley, Kaplan,
and McNew will embark on an ambitious promotional tour --
not only enduring a gruelling interview schedule, but actually
acting out large portions of the work in groundbreaking performance
is the seventh long-form release from Hubley and Kaplan. Their
latest three efforts have been fortified by the additional
talents of McNew, whose rapidly emerging vision displays to-be-reckoned-with
grace and verve. James broke into the industry in 1983 when
he showed up drunk for a Martha Quinn/Stiv Bators interview
shoot for MTV. The footage never aired, but McNew's abrupt
and oblique handheld cinematography technique set the MTV
standard for years to come. Always a step ahead of the competition,
James also went pioneer "vibing" rock video casts and crews,
and gained a certain amount of notoriety as "the guy who held
the ice cube" in one of the spicier versions of Godley &
Creme's "Girls on Film" clip for Duran Duran. While James
has been an equal member of the cinematic trio since 1992,
the release of EOP shows him finally stepping into
the limelight with style and authority, hinting at true auteur
potential. The mob scenes that greeted McNew's appearances
at recent Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals surely foreshadow
the fame that awaits this gifted young mind.
In Electr-o-pura, Kaplan and Hubley do what they do best:
merge grainy, dreamlike film noir segments with preternaturally
intense animated interludes and Warholian forays into the
artfully obtuse world of cinema verité. Hubley's background
in animation brings a surreal edge to Kaplan's more earthbound
live-action pragmatism, and the result of the cross-pollenization
of the two techniques is nothing short of electrifying. For
this reviewer, the most satisfying part of the film comes
when Hubley's character, Antigone, wanders away from her animated
cell and falls into an Alice-In-Wonderland-like hole dug by
Kaplan's alter-ego, Buddy. Antigone plunges past darkened
walls illuminated only by negative blurbs from reviews of
past Kaplan/Hubley efforts, and becomes increasingly despondent
as she plummets into the seemingly bottomless abyss. Just
when her despair reaches its darkest depths, the screen explodes
in white light!...and when the smoke clears, Buddy is holding
her slight frame in his arms, cooing soothing, wordless sounds.
It was all a dream. It's this sort of gentle, self-referential/post-modern
allegory that will give the jaded, cynical world of 90s cinema
the shot in the arm it so desperately needs. Surely an Electr-o-pura
soundtrack release would be the ultimate in absurd redundancy
-- the trio crafts such works of atmospheric lushness that
the sights and sounds stay with you forever.
Georgia Hubley drums, vocals
Ira Kaplan guitar, vocals
James McNew bass
April 4, 1995
first single from Electr-O-Pura, with three unrelease
b-sides (on the CD5): "Trading Water," "Bad Politics (a cover
of Dead C's first single) and "My Heart's Reflection."
October 5, 1993
1984, this trio (and once upon a time duo or quartet depending
on who was hanging around) has released five sprawling albums
of adventurous guitar rock, combining lyrical wit and musical
experimentation in a way uniquely their own. And these aren't
even the adjectives that MEAN something.
Yo La Tengo are "smart," but never at the expense of spontaneity.
Their music has a "noisy," freeform side to it, but never
at the expense of songwriting, melody, entertainment, love
of life, etc. They remind us of EVERY GREAT BAND THAT EVER
EXISTED (except, perhaps, the Revillos), while simultaneously
recalling no hands, faces and mouths other than their own.
was produced by Roger Moutenot and Fred Brockman. There's
a video for "Big Day Coming," directed by Phil Morrison, that
should be on your favorite cable TV program very soon. (Not
"The Fishin' Hole," your other favorite.)
August 24, 1993
nostrils flare in excitement, heck, our flares nostril in
excitement! Three tracks on the CD5 ("Shaker," "What She Wants,"
and a cover of Richard Thompson's "For Shame of Doing Wrong"),
two on the 7" ("Shaker" and a different version of "For Shame..."),
none of them on Painful. These guys are just great.