Tuesday, April 12th, 2005
Genius + Love = Yo La Tengo
In the two and a half odd years I’ve been writing this blog, I don’t think that it’s really come across how much I like Yo La Tengo. It’s mostly a matter of timing – they’ve been fairly quiet since 2002, only releasing one proper album in that time (it in itself fairly quiet) and that was before I was really writing much at all. As such, I haven’t had opportunity to pen any love letters to Hoboken’s finest.
But now is as good a time as any, what with the band celebrating twenty years of making wonderful music and releasing their Prisoners Of Love compilation album. Although I’ve got all their albums, I wanted this one as well since it came with a bonus disc of rarities and YLT are so wildly eclectic as a band that a portable edition of their catalog would be quite handy (although I probably could have made my own. Whatever). Happily, there’s enough tracks on the main double-disc set that I don’t have (“Shaker”, “Nuclear War”) that it’s still an interesting listen, and not just a walk down memory lane. To call it a “greatest hits” disc is a little silly since bands like Yo La Tengo don’t really have hits… The obvious poppier favourites like “Tom Courtenay” and “Sugarcube” rub elbows with free-form noise skronks and beautifully quiet folkier numbers. You’ll not find a band more difficult to pigeonhole, yet possessing such an unimstakable sonic personality.
The bonus disc (which I paid a premium for, yes) doesn’t contain anything revelatory. It’s a mix of unreleased and rare stuff, done up in the same eclectic mix of styles as the main compilation. The highlights so far are the Georgia-sung reworkings of “Tom Courtenay” and the acoustic “Decora”, though that might just be because the songs are already familiar favourites. Ask me again in a month or so, I might have completely different favourites.
I’ve seen Yo La Tengo live a couple times, and have to confess I wasn’t blown away either time. With so large a catalog at their disposal, set lists can obviously be a complete crapshoot. I enjoyed the first show I saw back in 2001 a fair bit, but was rather bored in April 2003 when they were touring Summer Sun as they were in a particularly jammy mood and it just didn’t grab me. I skipped their last time through town, but think I’ll catch them again the next time through, whenever that is. They’re doing some sporadic touring around the world over the Summer and probably won’t have a new record out till next year at the very earliest. The last couple albums have been quite snoozy – lovely in their own way, but one does yearn for a good old fashioned sonic freak out once in a while.
Links – NJ.com covers Yo La Tengo’s annual covers benefit for WFMU wherein the band plays cover song requests in exchange for a pledge, often with hilarious results. Paste takes a look at the 20-year history of the band while Radio Free Yo La Tengo celebrates their anniversary with an online radio show. Fansite Sunquashed recently crashed and is still rebuilding, but when it’s online it’s a great resource of stuff. And longtime home Matador has a variety of audio clips and videos, including this pinnacle of awesomeness:
It does me proud to be associated with Torontoist, who conducted this in-depth and revealing interview with Amy Millan of Stars. For my part, I have a slightly less profound review of Doves’ Some Cities.
Pitchfork investigates the phenomenon of musicians as bloggers and how it reflects (or distorts) their mystique as artists. In summary – John Darnielle and Momus: Good, Moby: Bad. So very bad. WHAT HAVE I BEEN SAYING FOR THE PAST YEAR?!? Gawd. Moby.
Comic Book Resources reports that X-Men 3 will begin shooting in Toronto and Vancouver around July 15. The first film was shot in the GTA, the second out west. Mutants back in the Big Smoke! Woot!
24: First off… Mike Novick? How does he get another job in government? Did the new administation think, “hey, here’s a guy who betrayed a lifelong friend and was a high ranking official in the other party’s administration. I want HIM on my payroll!” Not sure if there’s really time for him to be evil, though he’s doing as good a job at being slimy as the new President is at being spineless. Now to the main story – a nice, wholly contained, tense episode. I approve. I’ll ignore the great stretch in believability that the terrorists planned to only damage Air Force One, thus dislodging the football and having it land somewhere retrievable. Because that’s a scenario that it obviously makes loads of sense to base an entire master plan on. But I digress. The endgame this season has a definite air of familiarity about it – invoking the 25th Ammendment again? More rogue nuclear warheads? Mark my words – by 7:00 AM, Jack is sawing someone’s hand off.
It’s not a nomination, but I have been deemed Webby Worthy as part of this year’s Webby Awards. What does this mean? I do not know, I guess it’s like a nice pat on the back, or one of those “participant” ribbons they gave out at science fairs. “Way to come out and not embarrass yourself! Have a cheeseburger!” Thanks. Can’t help but notice MOBY isn’t Webby Worthy…
np – Eisley / Room Noises