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Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo are in many respects the quintessential critics' band: in addition to their adventurous eclecticism, defiant independence, and restless creative ambition -- three qualities that virtually guarantee music press acclaim -- the group's frontman, Ira Kaplan, even tenured as a rock scribe prior to finding success as a performer. So frequently compared to the Velvet Underground that they even portrayed the legendary group in the 1996 film I Shot Andy Warhol, the Hoboken, New Jersey-based Yo La Tengo have explored the extremes of feedback-driven noise rock and sweetly melodic pop, shading their work with equal parts scholarly composure and fannish enthusiasm. Prolific and mercurial, they have ultimately transcended their myriad influences to ensconce themselves as a beloved institution of the indie community.

The core of Yo La Tengo (Spanish for the outfielder's cry of "I've got it!") is comprised of singer/guitarist Kaplan and his wife, drummer/vocalist Georgia Hubley. After forming the band in 1984, they placed an advertisement seeking other musicians to round out the lineup, requesting applicants who shared their fondness for the Soft Boys, Mission of Burma, and Arthur Lee's Love. A number of bassists and lead guitarists passed through the band's roster during its formative years, but after bowing in late 1985 with the single "The River of Water," backed by a cover of Love's "A House Is Not a Motel," Yo La Tengo's membership appeared to stabilize with the additions of guitarist Dave Schramm and bassist Mike Lewis prior to the sessions for 1986's full-length roots pop debut, Ride the Tiger, produced by former Mission of Burma bassist Clint Conley.

However, both Schramm and Lewis exited in the wake of the record's release, leaving Kaplan to assume lead guitar duties. Bassist Stephan Wichnewski signed on for 1987's New Wave Hot Dogs, a more assured outing that brought the group's Velvet Underground obsession to the fore via a cover of the early VU composition "It's Alright (The Way That You Live)." Not only did Kaplan's introverted, half-spoken vocals and buzzing guitar work closely recall Lou Reed, but Hubley's rock-steady drumming and breathy backing turns simultaneously conjured memories of vintage Maureen Tucker. Even better was 1989's President Yo La Tengo, recorded with producer and guest bassist Gene Holder; opening with the droning squalls of the stunning "Barnaby, Hardly Working," the record spotlighted the group's sonic schizophrenia by including two Jekyll-and-Hyde versions of the track "The Evil That Men Do" -- one a gorgeous instrumental, the other a blistering feedback freakout.

Schramm returned to the fold for 1990's Fakebook, a remarkable acoustic folk-pop journey through Kaplan's record collection and a virtual family tree of Yo La Tengo reference points. A wonderfully low-key collection of covers ranging from forgotten nuggets (the Kinks' "Oklahoma U.S.A.," the Flamin' Groovies' "You Tore Me Down," Gene Clark's "Tried So Hard") to absolute obscurities (Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers' "Emulsified," the Escorts' "The One to Cry," the Scene Is Now's "Yellow Sarong"), Fakebook also included a handful of outstanding new originals as well as luminous retakes of the previous record's "Barnaby, Hardly Working" and New Wave Hot Dogs' "Did I Tell You?" The superb That Is Yo La Tengo EP previewed 1992's May I Sing with Me, the first effort to feature permanent bassist James McNew (formerly of Christmas). A return to noise typified by the hot-wired nine-minute feedback saga "Mushroom Cloud of Hiss," the record balanced out its extremist tendencies with the occasional sidestep into melodic beauty ("Detouring America with Horns") and infectious indie pop ("Upside-Down").

A move to the Matador label predated the release of 1993's Painful, another winner informed by the atmospherics of shoegazer drones and dream pop. Bookended by radically opposed renditions of the track "Big Day Coming" -- the first an organ-driven mood piece, the other an edgy guitar outing -- the record pushed Yo La Tengo in a multitude of new directions, significantly expanding the trio's palette of sounds and textures. Released in 1995, Electr-O-Pura continued the progression, zigzagging from dead-on British Invasion re-creations (the sparkling "Tom Courtenay") to shimmering folk (the Hubley-sung "Pablo and Andrea") to bracing sonic experimentation ("Decora"). After 1996's Genius + Love Equals Yo La Tengo, a two-disc compendium of B-sides, compilation tracks, rare singles, and unreleased material, the trio resurfaced in the spring of 1997 with I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One; And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out followed in early 2000.

The group also performed a three-night stint as the backing band for Ray Davies on his 2000 U.S. tour, and in 2002 released The Sounds of the Sounds of Science, a soundtrack to the undersea documentaries of French filmmaker Jean Painleve. That fall, they released the Nuclear War single, which featured several versions of Sun Ra's epic, and that winter performed their second annual Hanukkahpalooza, an eight-night musical festival at Hoboken, New Jersey's Maxwell's, which also led to a special limited-edition EP of Christmas songs. Yo La Tengo released Summer Sun in spring 2003, and that year Georgia Hubley performed in Mirror Man, an avant-garde rock opera by Pere Ubu's David Thomas.

In 2005, Matador Records paid homage to Yo La Tengo's 20th year as recording artists with the career-spanning compilations Prisoners of Love: A Smattering of Scintillating Senescent Songs: 1985-2003 and A Smattering of Outtakes and Rarities 1986-2002. The band returned the following year with the strong all-new album I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your A**. Fuckbook, a covers album that the band released under the alias Condo F**ks, arrived in 2009, followed several months later by the full-length Popular Songs. The following year, the Here to Fall EP, which featured remixes by De La Soul, Rjd2, and Pete Rock, arrived. The group's 13th album, Fade, was released in 2013. This album marked a departure for the band, as it was the first record since their 1993 breakthrough, Painful, not recorded with producer Roger Moutenot, but instead tracked with Chicago scene veteran and Tortoise member John McEntire. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

claricentp91 7
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People interested in making a few extra bucks per day you can check out BLUDOS.COM This site makes me around 70 usd per day. It's free to sign up.
Is it wrong that I like Luna but not Yo La Tengo?
danzigirwin
Strange relationship with Yo La Tengo's music. I either love the album , or I hate the album. There is no middle ground. Alyda from New Wave Hot Dogs is great. Never did like And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out.
Saw them at Bumbershoot, a *few* years ago. Not that great a show but holy crap Moby Octopus. Such an entrancing bassline.
Saw them in Albuquerque, it was in the mid 90s. I think they played with Jesus Lizard. It was a great show.
neilmcleod33
Song #3, The Evil Men Do is ok, the rest is meh
dlambert489
Saw them open for My Bloody Valentine in 92 and they got in a fight on stage and were pretty bad. I still like them.
Tu No La Tienes Pendejo! Yo La Tengo!
I super love this artist/band. Ira is so personable.. . a total sweetheart to talk to in person.
cojonudos
marcos barriento
love it, beautiful!
bodyritualz
This band is amazing!! My soul travels every single time i hear "the fireside" .. never fails!! AMAZING TUNES!!

very boring with no real identity.
I am so in love with this band! Awesome!
listening to heard you looking this f**king tune is an explosion
Kettle meet Pot
Moommoo007 has "Hot for Teacher" by Van Halen bookmarked . . . and then has the balls to call Yo La Tengo a crappy band.
I guess any tool can make a comment.
electropura ahhhhh....
spike_64_0
Just saw them Saturday in San Jose...aweso m e show!
They've got it alright :)
The new VU
strange318
Been a huge fan of yo la tengo forever..... a n d will always be, they can do no wrong....exc e p t maybe a better live show.
I LOVE U GUYS!!!! U R SIMPLY AMAZING!!! RARE!!! CAN'T WAIT TO C U LIVE AGAIN :)))))))
So Snow Patrol sounds like Tengo? Or does Tengo sound like Snow Patrol?
i like the tengo
lauriemax1
Gorgeous, I so enjoyed listening
Super cute stuff....I am a new and forever fan now <3
peridot100
I agree about the past tense.

When I heard the initial bars of this song I thought someone was covering Blue Oyster Cult's "Dont Fear the Reaper"...
Jab00 says: 04-13-2009

I love the song Autumn Sweater

Me too. great drumming!
YO LA WHATZ UP BRO!
Suck should be used as a compliment from now on.
the writers here on pandora/AMG do/did/have/ a n d will always suck.
Why all the past-tense in the band description? I know it's AMG and not Pandora, but gosh...they are still making amazing music.
in this here age of digital immediacy, i'm shocked that the new record is not listed above. perhaps i wouldn't even notice its absence were it not for the massive awesomeness of 'popular songs.' highly recommend starting on the last track, then playing the whole thing through. prepare to be overwhelmed in a most subtle fashion.
Love Yo La Tengo. I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One has to be my favorite album by them. And I get to see them live in Atlanta in two days! To say I'm excited would be an understateme n t .
Great band just started listening today and I love them already
Painful...an d . . . E l e c t r - o - P u r a are my two favorites... . I also like their newest one. I bought a friend Prisoners of Love to give him a YLT intro...he loves it.
best album?
Yo La Tengo rocks.
Go back to your Nickleback station and/or stop playing on the computer during while your mommy is away, she'll get mad.
yo la tengo is very talented
I luv this song!
Yo La Tengo is the best band in my eyes!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
I luv this song 2!!!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
I luv this song!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
clunk = half the riff from don't fear the reaper
...why is this band on my profile?...
Some pretty good songs by this band. A couple good hits from each CD that's for sure.
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