Posted in Album Reviews

Yo La Tengo – There’s a Riot Going On (2018)

31SlOueYWcL._AA327_QL65_Back in 2013 we called New Jersey’s Yo La Tengo one of the greatest American guitar bands ever. The trio returns with their fifteenth studio album and first set of all originals since that year’s Fade album. While learning how to use Pro Tools, bassist James Mcnew started recording the band’s practice sessions and soundscapes which lead to working on songs for this release.

First single “For You Too” is lo-fi guitars  teamed with heartbreaking lyrics – “but if it’s not too late, if I could protect you… maybe I could be that guy”. Ira Kaplan also takes on the vocals with mumbly goodness in “She May, She Might”. Georgia Hubley’s lead on “Shades of Blue” is surely one of the finest songs ever written about picking out paint colours. Instrumentals “You Are Here” and “Here You Are” do a fine job in bookending the disc.

In between, the album is broken up by three, five minute instrumentals including the atmospheric “Shortwave” and the jazzy “Above The Sound”. Having all three in a row slows the momentum down as the rest of the album is a mix of more instrumentals, song sketches, and subdued material. Only “Esporte Casual” lightens the mood and sounds like the kind of musical interlude that blur used to do so well. Several great Yo La Tengo tracks abound in the first half but the second half of There’s a Riot Going On is not nearly as memorable.

7/10

 

Posted in Through Life

Yo La Tengo – From a Motel 6

You shouldn’t hide but you always do
Because even when you’re gone, I can see right through
You want disconnection
You want me there enough for two

Pull a woolen blanket across my eyes
Dream a quiet place for us to fight
Oh no, your heart is broken
Don’t you think that’s a little trite?

I climb where I can see
You’re close but I won’t reach
Blank stare at the TV
CNN’s on channel three

In the passing lane on 1 and 9
Stuck in sad, car stuck in drive
Oh no, your heart is broken
Well, you can have what’s left of mine

I climb where I can see
You’re close but I won’t reach
Blank stare at the TV
The Howling II’s on channel three
Oh, I drift off to sleep
While the snow falls on the screen

(courtesy of http://www.songmeanings.net)

Posted in Album Reviews

Yo La Tengo – Fade (2013)

61koGLUGJLL__AA160_In the past few years, several celebrated college rock bands have decided to go their separate ways. Thurston and Kim broke up, Meg White’s anxiety got to be too much to continue with The White Stripes, and R.E.M finally called it a day 15 years after Bill Berry left the band to concentrate on farming. Operating in the shadows of those more famous bands, Hoboken NJ’s Yo La Tengo have continued to put out critically acclaimed albums once every few years. Fade, released in January of this year, is the latest from the husband and wife team of Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley along with long time bassist James McNew.

Fade starts off with the rollicking “Ohm”. The fuzzy seven minute rocker is quite possibly the strongest opening to any album released so far in 2013. This arrives before the quieter but no less catchy “Is That Enough” featuring terrific string interludes throughout. It’s not until track seven that Hubley takes the lead vocal for the hushed “Cornelia and Jane”. As lovely as that is, it’s just a prelude to the second track to feature her vocals, “Before We Run” which not only closes out Fade but is also one of the best songs YLT has ever recorded. The deadpan vocal delivery keeps the swelling orchestra at bay before it finally takes over for the final few minutes.

It’s not often one can be just as excited by a band’s release that comes almost exactly 20 years after their first great masterstroke, Painful released in 1993. Fade features all the hallmarks of that landmark release – the calm vocals, hazy guitar lines, introspective lyrics but this time around it is with a wiser, more confident outlook and delivery. With Fade, Yo La Tengo have just pushed themselves into the discussion of greatest indie rock bands of all time.

8/10

Review also found at UMFM.com