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Baker's Dozen

All The Glitter: Ira Kaplan Of Yo La Tengo's Favourite Albums
April Clare Welsh , March 14th, 2013 07:01

Yo La Tengo’s frontman leads April Clare Welsh through a selection of his most played LPs

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Perennial three-piece Yo La Tengo – Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew - are one of the most spectacular bands to have come out of the US in the past thirty years. Turning their hand to everything from classic pop tunes and lullabies, elongated widescreen indie meanderings, free jazz freak-outs and lounge-y bossa nova rhythms to gentle organ jams, drone-y, noise drenched clusterfucks and sweetened garage-pop, they are as chameleonic as they are prolific and their 13th studio album Fade, out now on Matador, only further confirms their unique position within the indie canon.

Whether it's reimagining the classics as Condo Fucks - or indeed, as the real YLT - creating improvised soundtracks like 2002's The Sounds of the Sounds of Science, or churning out remarkable albums like 2000's blissed-out opus And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, the mellowed-out melodies of Summer Sun, the hefty noise of 1995s Electro pura or 2006's behemoth I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, they exist entirely as a self-contained entity, occupying a space and venturing where no one else would, or indeed could, dare.

The sublime new LP presents 10 tightly coiled, beautifully tendered songs which all seamlessly bleed into and rush through each other like a pure, crystalline stream. The only criticism, if even a criticism at all, is the record's brevity. Clocking in at just 45 minutes, it's their shortest album since Fakebook, but is still by no means a fleeting, forgettable tryst. Concise and compact, as with every YLT album, you get a real sense of their agonising diligence to their craft, marked by obsessive attention to detail. From acoustic idyll 'I'll Be Around' to the bittersweet crackle of 'Paddle Forward' and the easy-breezy Summer Sun-era 'Stupid Things', it's soporific and completely perfect. Yo La Tengo truly produce intelligent pop, with broad lyrical themes, in a way that no one else ever has.

Ira speaks to us as he prepares for a show later that evening in snow-covered Vermont: “I just picked 13 records I really liked but I don't really know if they're my favourites per se - I don't think I can really choose, or whether 'favourites' really exist. There are things I like, and things I don't like, but it's all dependent on how I'm feeling that day. Any familiarity with our band will be able to connect the dots.”

Yo La Tengo tour the UK in March, playing The Barbican, London, March 20, The Ritz, Manchester, March 21 and O2 ABC, Glasgow March 22. Click on the photo below to read Ira’s Baker’s Dozen


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Mar 14, 2013 2:43pm

And the obligatory velvet underground record?

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Mar 14, 2013 5:04pm

Excellent list-- and The Scene Is Now are still peerlessly rocking/not rocking... Chris Nelson for Pope for more Phil Dray keyboard solos, please!!

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Mar 14, 2013 6:23pm

how long til the perennially grumpy anonymous commenter shows up to tell us how he kinda respects YLT (when they're playing shows, mind you, not their albums) but thinks their john cale covers are the worst? because that guy's a fucking humorless broken record who really should be put out of his misery.

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Karin Christensen
Mar 14, 2013 7:40pm

Oh I just love the fact that he mentions adventure as one of his favourite records, such a great album, I have so many warm and sad memories listening to it, it's that kind of record, both sad and warm and lovely and beutifully sinister. I LOVE The dreams dream, it's one of their best songs, what a guitar solo //Karin Sweden

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Hedda Gabbler
Mar 15, 2013 4:00am

In reply to baconfat:

Hint: ALL Yo La Tengo covers suck, with the exception of Sun Ra "Nuclear War" and The Scene Is Now "Yellow Sarong," two tunes so indomitable yet elastic YTL's good intentions shine through.

Hilarious how their fanboys and girls are treat YLT so sacredly, however. None of three have written more than five excellent SONGS between them-- even at their early peak they were subcontracting lyrics to Phil Milstein... Phil Milstein?!

"Wake of the Flood" >>>> YLT's ** career **; maybe if Ira, James and Georgia watched less television and read more they'd have more to say but, alas... And they ain't jazz either, hoss!

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Cynthia Mask
Mar 15, 2013 11:24am

In reply to Hedda Gabbler:

Party's overs folks, the trolls have arrived!

Is there some kind of magic portal that directly links The Quietus to The Guardian's music section, 'cos it seems like the same bearded, overweight, sexually frustrated, socially illiterate mitherers constantly scurry between both nowadays?

p.s. Interesting list Ira - I had a "Kiwi epiphany" with that Clean cassette too. :)

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John Doran
Mar 15, 2013 12:03pm

In reply to Cynthia Mask:

Did someone call me?

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Cynthia Mask
Mar 15, 2013 8:14pm

In reply to John Doran:

Ha - you smelt it, you dealt it, etc. :)

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Chris Q.
Mar 15, 2013 10:46pm

Neat List. IK can say he likes "Riot" but isn't a huge Sly fan...from you tubers ok...from a guy in the safest band in the world, a little disingenuous...

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Mar 16, 2013 10:47am

In reply to Chris Q.:

But what's "safe" got to do with anything? Surely what matters is whether YLT's records are still worth listening to or not? Sly Stone certainly knocked out a few "safe" albums in his time...

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Mar 16, 2013 11:26pm

In reply to Rooksby:

Some people hold "There's a Riot Goin' On" in extremely high regard, and to make "Fresh" and "Small Talk" after losing Larry Graham - if it isn't dangerous its at least ballsy...maybe The Flaming Lips or Beck or YLT can try to do a cover album of "Fresh," that'd be hip as shit for guys in their mid-forties.

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Mar 17, 2013 1:16pm

In reply to :

I'd rather The Flaming Lips didn't record anything again ever if that's OK with thee? :)

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Ralf Jogerst
May 26, 2013 4:45pm

In reply to Karin Christensen :

Really one of the all time best adventure.The talking heads more songs, pylon gyrate, chills singles and bats daddy´s highway follow onlyin a short distance. Nice to read the yola biography.

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