Monday, October 12, 2009
Big Day Coming
We're realizing more and more how hard it is to post something that hasn't been covered ad nauseum somewhere else. So many other websites, so many other specialized websites. We're not a "full album" site, and we're not a "breaking news" site. We're just a guy with a computer who sees too many shows and has too many albums. There's no point in trying to compete, and we've been doing this a very long time in "blogger years", whatever that is. Our first focus round these parts was Country, with a little Blues and Garage/Trash/Rawk'n'Roll thrown into the mix. Our bread and butter, then. We've seen a ton of sites spring up over the years that cover these things, to varying degrees of longevity and effectiveness. And yet, here we are, still. We've been excited by a variety of new releases over the years, and this year is no exception. We still feel that there's a wealth of great "old" music that's worth exploring. And the Deep Blues Fest that we keep rambling on and on and on about has rejuvenated our love of the Blues in all it's mutations.
We think there's more to say, and more to post. We'd like to believe we at least offer a hint of context in a world of quick-grab gratification and PR "one-sheet" cut and pasting. So, we soldier on, we'll be here. No crisis of purpose, just an evaluation of what we represent.
I think over the next couple of weeks, we're gonna focus on them what brought us to the dance, returning our focus mainly to the Country and Western and Deep Blues music. We'll still throw in the ramdom trash-fest, Six pack vinyl love, and whatnot, of course. And, naturally, y'all can't miss our annual Xmas extravaganza. But first, and first and first...
All that said, this week we're gonna go daily with a batch of new releases that we think are super-neato. Let's get on with it then.
Yo La Tengo have a new record out, "Popular Songs" on Matador.
In our humble estimation Yo La Tengo are a national treasure. The duo of Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley (with James McNew becoming an essential member back in the 90's) have been very quietly making masterpiece after masterpiece for almost 25 years. A perennial "indie" band that has arguably done more to legitimize the "movement" (whatever that is) than any other band labeled as such, Yo La Tengo craft symphonies of sound and silence, from the delicacy of strummed ruminations to the ragged sheets of guitar-distorted rev and drone. When folks point to a certain Liverpool band as the beginning and end of great music, we've been know to point to Yo La Tengo as an example of the continuing evolution of the pop'n'rock now, a band forging it's own singular hum in the back of the head, un-beholden to, yet fully appreciative of, the wealth of tumbled tune, tone, and tempo that tapestries a history told through tape'n'wax'n'plastic'n'oral tradition.
Singer/Guitarist Ira Kaplan can be the most nimble of guitarists, on par with Dean Wareham. Or he can take Neil Young on a race down the electric shredded highway. Sometimes in the same song. His voice, from a shout to a whisper, works best in conjunction with drummer Georgia Hubley's, the two of them intertwining the smallness of time, the carefully observed and fretfully fraught moments in between life lived. Hubley, when she takes the mic solo, could be mistakenly referred to as a modern-day Mo Tucker, if it weren't for the fact that her gorgeous and plaintive voice soars over the proceedings. Hers is the integral voice, both written and sung, to Yo La Tengo's sound, the ground and the angel. Oh, and she kicks your ass as a drummer. And then there's their adopted son, bassist James McNew (I may have made that up), a solo musician in his own right, who acts as foil and everyman, the link between Ira and Georgia, both musically and in presence. He's the throb in the heartbeat of the band. And he tells the best jokes. Really, I've seen them a dozen times, and he actually does have the best jokes. That's important.
Yo La Tengo's records veer stylistically from song to song, displaying their encyclopedic knowledge of the world of sound, but each individual tune serves the greater purpose of each album, pulling and tugging the strings of expectation, taking you on a journey through morning to morning, all points between, the stuff of life.
The following is not a Yo La Tengo "greatest hits", otherwise we would have started the proceedings with "From A Motel Six" (which you need). It's a selection of some of their more sublime moments, songs captured in the dappled land of twilight and Autumnal reverie. The band can kick some seriously fuzzy distorted ravers, but for our purposes today, we want to highlight the quieter moments, the interplay between Ira and Georgia (and James) at their most intimate. We'll start with a track off their new record, "Popular Songs" and stretch back to "Painful" (in no particular order). We're leaving out representatives from some of their earlier albums, which are equally great, but, well, that's just how it goes.
Yo La Tengo: I'm On My Way (mp3)
Yo La Tengo: Autumn Sweater (mp3)
Yo La Tengo: Big Day Coming (mp3)
Yo La Tengo: Our Way To Fall (mp3)
Yo La Tengo: The Hour Grows Late (mp3)
Yo La Tengo: I Feel Like Going Home (mp3)
Please support your local Mets fans (too obscure?).