Most bands who make it thirty years into their career tend to play it safe. Every few years they’ll release an album, do some TV appearances to promote it, and maybe tour for a few months. But that’s just not the Yo La Tengo way. YLT has done historic eight-night Hanukkah residencies, recorded film scores, and even supported a public radio station by covering supporters’ favorite songs live on the air. And if you still thought they might ease into their role as elder statesmen of indie rock, they went ahead and released a great album titled I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass.
From humble beginnings in Hoboken, New Jersey, founding members (and alt-rock power couple) Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley built a cult following with delightfully offbeat albums like President Yo La Tengo and Fakebook. When bassist James McNew joined the band for 1992′s May I Sing With Me, the pieces had come together perfectly. And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out and I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One saw the band’s songwriting grow by leaps and bounds as they experimented with new instruments, genres, and recording techniques to make some of the most influential alternative music of the past twenty years.
Last year, the band released their spectacular thirteenth LP, Fade. The lyrics were unusually direct, and at ten songs in 46 minutes, it was the band’s shortest (and most conventional) album ever. But like most Yo La Tengo releases, it was met with near-universal critical acclaim. Pitchfork called it “every bit as adventurous as the band’s most eclectic albums,” while Rolling Stone said the band “revels in its pop modesty, as beautifully as ever.”
If you’re just getting started with Yo La Tengo, check out their classic 1998 album I Can Hear The Heart Beating as One. Packed with indie staples like “Sugarcube,” “Autumn Sweater” and “Stockholm Syndrome,’ it was named the 25th best album of the 90s by Pitchfork. Do your homework now and you’ll be ready when Yo La Tengo shows everybody how it’s done at LouFest.