Yo La Tengo was essentially the first on-demand music streaming service. Through the eclectic on-demand ensembles they used to perform for WFMU’s annual fundraiser and, more recently, their annual Hanukkah shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, the group has amassed an endless jukebox of covers ranging from old gilded old to underground quirks. It’s almost as if Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley created this group so that they can someday be the kind of taste-making entity who can save forgotten songs from dollar darkness or submit popular songs to a critical reassessment.
But while it is customary for indie rock groups to approach the pop hits of the past with subversive intent, Yo La Tengo never seems to pee, preferring to acclimate to the natural habitat. of the original material rather than trying to drastically change the context of the song. . And yet, whether they cover Sun Ra or Sonny Bono, the covers of Yo La Tengo undoubtedly resemble the songs of Yo La Tengo, because they fulfill exactly the same function as the best originals of the group: they are intimate exchanges, the sound secrets being revealed. And as Yo La Tengo’s latest cover set attests, this quality becomes all the more amplified when these exchanges are rendered like whispers.
Given the well-established representative of Yo La Tengo’s karaoke machine, the arrival of an acoustically focused collection of covers Stuff like that over there is not as revealing as their previous collection of acoustically focused covers from the 1990s Fake book, which opened up a new dimension to what was then a fairly straightforward and scrappy rock band (a pristine state they revisited on the all-electric complement of 2009, Fuck book, credited to their garage-punk alter ego, the Condo Fucks.) But Stuff like that over there takes on its full meaning in the wake of 2009 Popular songs and 2013 Disappear, who displayed a gradual drift from the band’s extenso-jams because of the comments towards succinct, small-scale statements.
Although the album’s sources range from ’40s country to’ 60s soul to ’90s alternative rock, the performance here is smooth, all the snare rhythms brushed, the twang of good taste and the soft acoustic strums that permeate the air like a late afternoon drizzle. The readings are low-key and reverent, but the spirit is cowardly and playful. The Hubley-directed versions of Darlena McCrea’s 1964 single “My Heart’s Not In It”, Hank Williams ‘standard beer “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and Parliaments’ psych-soul serenade “I Can Feel the Ice Melting ”manages to feel both on point and off the cuff, as if the band are pulling precious seven inches out of their protective sleeves and couldn’t care less if they scratched each other.
Corn Stuff like that over there isn’t just another excuse for Yo La Tengo to show off their encyclopedic knowledge of pop history. At this point in their career, he is also poignantly reminiscent of indie-rock peers of the ’80s and’ 90s who never achieved the same level of success, such as the contemporaries / collaborators of Louisville Antietam (a “Naples Faithfully reproduced), Hoboken the hero The Special Pillow (the charming and harmoniously rich “Automatic Doom”), and the REM-esque band from the Ohio Great Plains, whose jagged anthem “n ‘jangly” Before We Stop to Think ”receives a beautifully hurt read by Kaplan. In contrast, the album’s only concession to popular taste – Hubley’s melancholy take on The Cure’s atypically sunny 1992 single “Friday I’m in Love” – seems out of place amid the collector’s finds. records and personal logins that make up most of the song list. , rather presenting itself as a novelty that just isn’t new enough (not to mention a distant second in the pantheon of Cure taken over by renowned American indie-rock power trios).
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Yo La Tengo cover album without the band covering themselves. But while the trio are known to radically transform their buzzing noise-rock odyssey into singing lullabies and vice versa (often swapping Kaplan’s voice for Hubley’s in the process), the rustic revamps of Popular songs‘”All your secrets” and Electr-o-Pura Deep Cut “The Ballad of Red Buckets” isn’t much different from their official takes – the amplifier settings can be tweaked down slightly, but the essential vibe remains. The major exception is a tiptoe passage I can hear the heart beat as oneThe swirling centerpiece of “Deeper Into the Movies”, although unlike previous top-to-bottom transitions of Yo La (like the “Big Day Coming Painful, Where Camp Yo La TengoThe dodged version of “Tom Courtenay”) looks less like a wholesale overhaul than a rough sketch that makes you regret the rising strength of the original. Fortunately, Yo La Tengo compensates for the superfluity of these auto-covers with two new first-rate tracks: The excellent “Rickety” continues the motorik dynamic of Disappear “Stupid Things”, with the band sounding like street musicians on the shoulder of the freeway, while Kaplan’s “Awhileaway” is a wonderful moonlit ride of a ballad.
Stuff like that over there may not always be intriguing track by track, but, taken as a whole, the record presents itself as a loving portrait of Yo La Tengo’s vast musical and social universe condensed into a small wooden frame. And at a time when the experience of the complete album gives way to the all-powerful playlist, Stuff like that over there Handily reaffirms Yo La Tengo’s reputation as an accomplished curator of independent rock. Your music subscription service of choice can give you over a hundred different background mixes to complement the Sunday morning laziness, but Stuff like that over there is really the only one you need for a lazy day in your little corner of the world.