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Monday, January 14th, 2013

I'll Be Around

Review of Yo La Tengo’s Fade

Photo By Carlie ArmstronCarlie ArmstrongNot much stays fresh after 30 years, particularly something as fleeting as creativity, and not even a band that’s as stylistically rangy as Yo La Tengo is immune to the of feeling of repeating themselves. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as their last release – 2009’s Popular Songs – was an enjoyable summation of everything Yo La Tengo has done well over the past three decades or so, from concise poppers to sprawling rockers on the x-axis and quiet to loud on the y, but didn’t really offer much as a jumping-off point for where they’d could go next.

As it turned out, the “where” would be Chicago, to work with John McEntire of Tortoise, rather than Nashville and Roger Moutenot, who had been behind the boards for every one of their records since 1993’s Painful – that’s their last seven releases. And while it’s not necessarily clear that a change in producer would have that drastic an effect on a band that’s as assured in what they do and how they do it as Yo La Tengo, if they were looking to come away with something different, it’s reasonable to say that the fruits of those sessions – Fade, out tomorrow – accomplished that.

The songs still follow the familiar Yo La Tengo templates, but the presentation feels compressed. Not in the technical studio sense of being less dynamic, but it’s not hard to imagine bookend tracks “Ohm” and “Before We Run” stretching past the 10-minute mark on other records instead of being constrained to their relatively concise six-and-change running times here. And those are the longest tracks on the album – almost everything else clocks in at under five minutes. Not to get too hung up on matters of time – what’s more remarkable than the fact that the whole thing could be dubbed onto a single side of a 90-minute cassette is that it seems to have been done without compromising any of the band’s trademark atmospheric indulgences or rushing their gentler, languid tempos.

On the quiet side, “Two Trains” exists in a sumptuous, phase-shifted dream-state, and “I’ll Be Around” hums along, carried by whirring organs and Ira Kaplan’s fingerpicked guitarwork, yet maintain enough presence to avoid becoming pretty aural wallpaper, and at the other end of the spectrum, “Well You Better” and “Paddle Forward” are welcome additions to the crunchy pop nugget section of their songbook. Fade may not necessarily break any new ground for the band – that may well be mathematically impossible for them at this point – but it does offer a fresh perspective on much of what they do best.

Spin and DIY have interviews with Ira Kaplan. They’re at The Phoenix on February 9.

MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Stupid Things”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Ohm”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Before We Run”
Stream: Yo La Tengo / Fade

It’s not as good as, say, her own tour in support of a new album, but it’s worth noting that Nicole Atkins will be in town on February 25 opening up for Eels at The Phoenix.

MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”

And if you missed the post addendum last week, Low have announced a local date in support of their new record The Invisible Way. The album is out March 19 but they’ll be here a few days earlier, on March 16, at The Great Hall. Tickets for that are $18.50 and on sale now.

MP3: Low – “Just Make It Stop”

Chelsea Light Moving – aka Thurston Moore’s new post-Sonic Youth band – will be at Lee’s Palace on March 31 in support of their self-titled debut, out March 5. Tickets are $19.50, details on the release available at Matablog and there’s quite a bit of the new record available to preview; spoilers – it sounds like Thurston Moore.

MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Burroughs”
MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Frank O’Hara Hit”
MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Empire Of Time”
MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Groovy & Linda”

Los Angeles electro-pop outfit Fol Chen will be at The Drake Underground on April 7 in support of their new album The False Alarms, due out March 19.

MP3: Fol Chen – “Cable TV”
Stream: Fol Chen – “200 Words”

Good news for those anticipating/dreading the auction later this week for the new Replacements benefit EP, Songs For Slim; while that limited edition of 250 will still be auctioned off to raise money for former ‘Mats guitarist Slim Dunlap’s medical bills, a regular edition of the recordings will be made available for sale to the general public. Details on that at Consequence Of Sound.

NPR interviews Christopher Owens, whose solo debut Lysandre is out tomorrow and who hits The Mod Club this Friday night.

NPR has got the whole of the new Widowspeak album Almanac available to stream ahead of its January 22 release.

MP3: Widowspeak – “Ballad Of The Golden Hour”
Stream: Widowspeak / Almanac

Hit up Consequence Of Sound to hear a stream of a track from the new Guided By Voices EP Down By The Racetrack, due out January 22. Their next full-length English Little League will follow on April 30.

Stream: Guided By Voices – “Copy Zero”

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Caitlin Rose, whose second album The Stand-In is out February 25 and who plays The Garrison on April 5.

Charles Bradley has given his second album Victim Of Love an April 2 release date. Details over at Exclaim.

The Flaming Lips have announced plans to release their 1997 mind-fuck opus Zaireeka as a vinyl reissue for Record Store Day this year, which is to say April 20. Which sounds great but when you factor in the fact that you’d not only need four turntables instead of the original issue’s quad-CD player setup, but you’d need to swap sides and records for each disc… yeah. No.

Memory Tapes have released a new video from last year’s Grace/Confusion.

Video: Memory Tapes – “Sheila”

The Alternate Side has a studio session with Dinosaur Jr.

Glasswerk have a video session with Crooked Fingers.

Elle Canada has an interview with Janelle Monáe.

Popmatters talks to Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum.

By : Frank Yang at 8:29 am
Category: General

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