Rarely does a bonus CD warrant a review on its own merits. Generally this is due to the fact that the songs are no more than off-cuts and cast-offs that not only scrape the bottom of the barrel but often the underside as well. This platter by Yo La Tengo warrants closer inspection.
The accompanying disc to the Fade release – the thirteenth record by the indie institution upon themselves – Yo La Tengo are so familiar yet so unlike to what you expect.
For most of the disc, the electricity is turned off, or the volume is set low. The live version of Ohm is given the “live quiet” treatment. Later it reappears in the “live loud” form. The latter is more akin to the trademark Yo La Tengo sound, although not as blistering as some of their earlier paint stripping material. The years have seemingly mellowed them somewhat.
Intermingled throughout are some interesting cover versions of the well known. Beach Boys and ZZ Top as well as the not so well known, Todd Rundgren and some positively unknown, Times New Viking. Anyone with more than a passing interest in Yo La Tengo will realise that they have long gone past polite pop sounds and never really straddled that sphere. They concluded years ago that charm alone is merely amateur hour. Indomitable will was required to carry them through the decades.
Allowing EYE of The Boredoms to tinker with Stupid Things creates some interesting japery. EYE is not in the slightest peevish and injects some mass drone over some tepid moments. With suitable guile. Is That Enough and Cornelis And Jane are other songs off the new record which are reworked.
Yo La Tengo do not relent in their vision and Super Kiwi is ridiculously fuzzed, whilst ZZ Top’s Le Grange is noted as Untitled on the slick. Maybe it’s the royalties. On most of the songs, nothing seems too urgent, nor do Yo La Tengo seem as absurdly out of place as they once did. They may not have adapted, but the audience has accepted their sound favourably. Sometimes, banging your head against the wall does pay dividends.
BY BRONIUS ZUMERIS
BEST TRACK: Is That Enough
IF YOU LIKE THESE, YOU’LL LIKE THIS: TORTOISE, LOU REED, LUNA
IN A WORD: Serendipitous