Wednesday, July 24, 2024 
--archival-captured-cinematronic-continuity error-daily report-datastream-depth of field--
--drama-44.1 khz-gramophone-inquisitive-needle drops-picture book-twinklepop--
Neumu = Art + Music + Words
Search Neumu:  


edited by michael goldbergcontact

The Subtle Evolution Of Yo La Tengo

The last time visitors were allowed to enter the little village of Yo La Tengo, they were given a 10 p.m. tour of the town whose gentle streets are lined with dogwood trees and American Beauty roses. The tour was well received, likely because it offered a respite from the bright lights of the gentrified city and the narcissistic hysteria of the passionless suburbs. It was a chance to take in the stars scattered above and scenes of domestic life lived by those who continue to cherish intimacy and its handmaiden, humor.

The soundtrack for that visit was the Hoboken band's 2000 album, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out. The album, which captured the band playing in softer tones and creating a musical space more reminiscent of avant-garde jazz, sounded different from any of the band's previous 11 albums. Of course, that was not particularly surprising. Since 1986, when the band released its debut, Ride the Tiger, each album has largely turned away from the sound of its predecessor.

And so for the band's legion of fans, the trio's new full-length, Summer Sun, will be a surprise precisely because it does not break with And Then Nothing.... Instead, it infuses the sounds of that nighttime album with a July beach sound that is fit for sundown bonfires but not for Surfin' U.S.A. The continuity between the albums, though, turns out to be another case of the band breaking with the past, at least according to Ira Kaplan, band songwriter and guitarist, on the phone from a friend's house in Northampton, Mass., the morning after the band's show there in April.

"We could have put songs onto the album that would have made it sound different than the last one, but we knew we had never made two records that sounded so much alike," he said. "We thought, wouldn't that, in essence, be a change for us, not to change? It became an intriguing direction to try and make a stronger link."

That decision meant the band left off the album two rock-oriented songs as well as the louder version of the album's "Today's the Day," which Kaplan expects will appear on an EP.

Bassist James McNew, though, sees the album as a continuation of the band's progression. "The way we work is we don't set out a plan for any of these records," he said during a March phone interview. "We just let it come to us. It is like starting over from scratch each time, but all these records are related. They each seem like a pretty natural outcome of previous ideas, previous records. We take those elements that might have been more buried and expound on them."

Yo La Tengo wrote the songs that appear on Summer Sun last summer and began recording in September in Nashville with its long-time producer Roger Moutenot, who lives there. "We realized we liked going away to make a record," McNew said. "It's easier to focus, and when we're not working, we have a lot of friends there," including the members of Lampchop, who provide the band room and board.

Yo La Tengo recently finished touring for several weeks, primarily on the East Coast, and will play 11 shows in the Midwest and on the West Coast in June, with New Zealand post-punk legends The Clean as the opening act.

Last year, while waiting for a new album, Yo La Tengo fans were treated to two releases from the band. First came The Sounds of the Sounds of Science, a set of nine pieces they wrote and performed as soundtracks for the underwater documentaries and shorts of French filmmaker Jean Painleve. The track listings offer a good feel for the music: "Sea Urchins" and "How Some Jellyfish Are Born."

In November, Matador released an EP containing three versions of "Nuclear War," avant-garde jazz man Sun Ra's 1982 space-funk ode to the possibilities of nuclear annihilation with its direct refrain: "Nuclear War, they're talking about Nuclear War/ It's a motherfucker, don't you know/ If they push that button, your ass gotta go/ And whatcha gonna do without your ass."

The band members are all long-time Sun Ra fans, but they began playing the song at the band's shows on the eight nights of Hanukkah months after the Sept. 11th attacks because "it seemed inescapable not to try to address what had happened," Kaplan said.

Following subsequent invasion of Iraq, he added, the song feels just as relevant. "The political debate in this country is anything but serious, and I think this song works because it uses humor to prove its point," Kaplan said. "I don't see how anyone can argue that we had no choice [but to go to war]. I just think [that attitude of disbelief] is profoundly expressed in the song."

All in all, Kaplan sees the band's musical choices as a sign of its increasing brazenness, which, he admits, is "backwards" from the progression of most groups. "Young bands normally start out snotty, but I don't think we were particularly snotty," he said. "There was a lot of tentativeness to the band when we started. As quiet as the songs are on the record, we do a lot of other things more musically than we used to. I think we feel more confident in ourselves and each other." — Andrew Gold [Monday, May 12, 2003]

Alejandro Escovedo's Joyous Rebirth

John Vanderslice Kicks Genre

Paul Duncan's Elusive Pop

Stephen Yerkey's Wandering Songs

French Kicks Complete 'Two Thousand'

Spazzy Romanticism: Love Story In Blood Red

Brain Surgeons NYC Rock The Big Questions

Jarboe's 'Men' Charts Turbulent Emotions

Delta 5's Edgy Post-Punk Resurrected

Blitzen Trapper Spiff Things Up

Minus Five: Booze, Betrayal, Bibles and Guns

New Compilation Spotlights Forgotten Folk Guitar Heroes

Chris Brokaw's Experiment In Pop

Old And New With Death Vessel

Silver Jews: Salvation And Redemption

Jana Hunter's Beautiful Doom

Vashti Bunyan Finds Her Voice Again

Nick Castro's Turkish Folk Delight

Katrina Hits New Orleans Musicians Hard

Paula Frazer's Eerie Beauty

The National Find Emotional Balance

Death Cab For Cutie's New Album, Tour

Heavy Trash's Rockabilly Rampage

Help The Wrens Get Their Albums Released!

Devendra Banhart, Andy Cabic Launch Label

Lydia Lunch's Noir Seductions

Bosque Brown's The Real Deal

PDX Pop Now! Fest Announces Lineup

Sarah Dougher Starts Women-Focused Label

Jennifer Gentle's Joyful Psyche

Mountain Goat Darnielle Gets Autobiographical With 'Sunset Tree'

Mia Doi Todd's Beautiful Collaboration

Return of the Gang of Four

Martha Wainwright Finds Her Voice

Brian Jonestown Massacre's Acid Joyride

Solo Disc Due From Pixies' Frank Black

Heartless Bastards' Big-Hearted Rock

Mike Watt's Midlife Journey

The Black Swans Balance Old And New

Nicolai Dunger's Swedish Blues

The Insomniacs' Hard-Edged Pop

Yo La Tengo Collection Due

Juana Molina's 'Homemade' Sound

Beans Evolves

Earlimart's Songs Of Loss

Devendra Banhart's 'Mosquito Drawings'

Negativland Rerelease 'Helter Stupid'

Alina Simone Transforms The Ordinary

Sounds From Nature: Laura Veirs

Octet's Fractured Electric Pop

Sleater-Kinney Working With Lips Producer

The Cult Of Silkworm

The Evolution Of The Concretes

Devendra Banhart's Exuberant New Songs

Catching Up With The Incredible String Band

Gram Rabbit's Desert Visions

Three Indie-Rock Stars Unite As Maritime

Remembering Johnny Ramone

Jarboe's Many Voices

Phil Elvrum's Long Hard Winter

First U.S. Release For Vashti Bunyan Album

Incredible String Band To Tour U.S.

New Music From Lydia Lunch

Le Tigre Protest The Bush War Presidency

Joel RL Phelps: Bleak Songs Rock Hard

Time Tripping With Galaxie 500

Patti Smith Wants Bush Out!

Sharron Kraus: A New Kind Of Folk Music

The Fiery Furnaces' Psychedelic Theater

Harder, Heavier Burning Brides

Sonic Youth's Ongoing Experiment

The Dt's Do It Their Way

Poster Children Cover Political Rock

Rare Thelonious Monk Recordings Due

Uneasy Pop From dios

Beck, Lips, Waits Cover Daniel Johnston

Understanding Franz Ferdinand

The Truly Amazing Joanna Newsom

Mylab's Boundary-Crossing Experiments In Sound

Have You Heard Jolie Holland Whistle?

The 'Magical Realism' Of Vetiver

The Restless, Rootsy Songs Of Eszter Balint

The Sun Sets On The Blasters

Devendra Banhart To Tour U.S.

The East/West Fusion Sounds Of Macha

Destroyer Gets Mellow For Your Blues

TV On The Radio Get Political

Sonic Youth, Modest Mouse To Play Lollapalooza 2004

New Music From The Fall

Apocalyptic Sound From The Intelligence

Fast And Rude With The Casual Dots

'Rejoicing' With Devendra Banhart

New Album, Tour From The Polyphonic Spree

Shearwater Take Wing

Sleater-Kinney To Tour East/West Coasts

Resurrecting Rocket From The Tombs

Visqueen Want To Get A Riot Goin' On

Lloyd Cole Makes A Commotion

Funkstörung's 'Cut-Up' Theory

Waiting For Mirah's C'mon Miracle

Electrelane Find Their Voice

The Television Is Still On!

Experimental Sounds From Hannah Marcus

The Ponys Play With Rayguns

Ex-Mono Men Leader Returns With The Dt's

Mountain Goats' Darnielle Adopts A More Hi-Fi Sound

Sun Kil Moon To Tour U.S., Europe

Nothin' But The Truth From The Von Bondies

Sultans Survive 'Shipwreck'

Sebadoh Reunite For Spring Tour

Xiu Xiu's 'Reality' Rock

Meet The Patients

Beth Orton, M. Ward Make Sadness Taste Sweet

Oneida's Pathway To Ecstasy

Radiohead, Pixies, Dizzee Rascal To Play Coachella

Young People Tour Behind War Prayers

Pixies Tour Dates Announced

Ani DiFranco Tells It Like It Is

Deerhoof Back For 2004 With Milkman

McLusky Set To 'Bring On The Big Guitars' Again

Pixies Reunite For U.S., European Tours

American Music Club, Decemberists To Play NoisePop 2004

Damien Rice Set To Tour U.S.

The Frames Accept Your Love

Punk Rock's A-Frames To Re-Record Third Album

Finally! Mission Of Burma Record New Album

A Solo Detour For Ladybug Transistor's Sasha Bell

Return Of The Old 97's

Spending The Night With Damien Rice

Tindersticks Reissues Due This Spring

The Evolution Of 'A Silver Mt. Zion'

Neil Young Rocks Australia With 'Greendale'

Poster Children Back In Action

'The Great Cat Power Disaster Of 2003'

Chicks On Speed's Subversive Strategies

Oranger At A Crossroad

Peaches On Tour And In Control

Jawbreaker's Complete Dear You Sessions To Be Released

Belle & Sebastian + Trevor Horn = Sunny Pop Nirvana

Von Bondies' Pawn Shoppe Heart

Descendents Are Back!

Modest Mouse Touring; Album Due in 2004

London Suede Take A (Permanent?) Break

Saul Williams Wants You To Think For Yourself

The 'Zen' Sound Of Calexico

Elliott Smith Dead AT 34

Debut Due From Mark Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon

The Hunches: Music That'll 'Fucking Live Forever'

Vic Chesnutt Speaks His Mind

90 Day Men Cancel Tour

Keith Jarrett, Cecil Taylor Highlight SF Jazz Festival

For My Morning Jacket, It's The Music That Matters

EP Due From The Polyphonic Spree

Bright Eyes, Neva Dinova Collaborate On EP

The Rise & Fall & Rise Of Ben Lee

Catching Up With Cheerfully Defiant Tricky

Hanging Around With The Polyphonic Spree

Sophomore Album Due From The Shins

Noise Rock From Iceland's Singapore Sling

Death Cab To Tour U.S.

Rufus Wainwright's Want One Is 'Family Affair'

Death Cab's Transatlanticism On The Way

Heartfelt Rock From Sweden's Last Days Of April

The Minus 5 Get Down With Wilco

Tywanna Jo Baskette's Southern-Gothic Rock

Xiu Xiu's Stewart Takes On 'Gay-bashing'

Portishead Producer Resurfaces Behind New Diva

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wire, Primal Scream On Buddyhead Comp

Yeah Yeah Yeahs To Tour West Coast

Sonic Youth, Erase Errata Kick Off 'Buddy Series'

The Locust Are One Scary Band

Damien Rice In The 'Here And Now'

Remembering Karp's Scott Jernigan

ATP-NY Postponed 'Til At Least 2004

The Soul Of Chris Lee

Gits' Frenching The Bully To See Re-Release

Stephen Malkmus Is In Control

Superchunk To Release Rarities Set; Teenage Girls To Swoon As A Result

Summer Touring For The Gossip

Babbling On About Deerhoof

Irish Song Poet Damien Rice's O Released In U.S.

Chatting With ATP's Barry Hogan

Former Digable Planets Frontman Surfaces With Cherrywine

ATP L.A. Festival Rescheduled For Fall

Freakwater's Janet Bean Takes A Solo Turn

Lee's 'Cool Rock'

Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs Highlight YES NEW YORK

Mark Romanek's 'Hurt' Revives Johnny Cash's Career

The Rapture's Post-Punk, Post-Dance Sound

R.E.M., Wilco, Modest Mouse Highlight Bumbershoot Fest

Set Fires To Flames' Sleep-Deprivation Sound

Southern Gothic Past Shadows Verbena's La Musica Negra

The Subtle Evolution Of Yo La Tengo

Spring Tour For Jolie Holland (Plus A Live Album)

Liz Phair Still Pushing The Limits

Gold Chains Wants You To Dance And Think

Young People's War Prayers On The Way

peruse archival

-snippetcontactsnippetcontributorssnippetvisionsnippethelpsnippetcopyrightsnippetlegalsnippetterms of usesnippetThis site is Copyright © 2003 Insider One LLC