Yo La Tengo
Yo La Tengo continues the proud Hoboken tradition of innovation that includes
Former rock critic and guitarist Ira Kaplan and his wife, drummer Georgia Hubley, founded the band in the early '80s and went through a succession of second guitarists and drummers over the next decade before finally finding their ever-steady bassist James McNew. The group's early albums laid down their recurring musical obsessions, which like so many great artists can be split into a noisy side and a sedate side -- the former tending toward buzzing feedback-laced noise-rock and the latter toward warm, jangly noise pop. Throughout these albums -- Ride the Tiger, President Yo La Tengo, and especially 1990's Fakebook -- the group demonstrated their encyclopedic familiarity with music history through their use of distinctive stylistic referents and covers of songs by critical favorites like the Velvets,
McNew hopped aboard for 1992's May I Sing with Me, which was a droning rhythmic affair influenced by the U.K. shoegazer movement, as was the blissful follow-up, Painful, which began a long association with
Maybe covering Sun Ra got the band thinking about sunshine, but in any case they followed soon after in the spring of 2003 with their tenth album, Summer Sun, a record which exploits the band's new cachet with the NPR crowd while still appealing to diehard indie rockers. Filled with gauzy, understated pop songs and noodly jazz-inflected jam sessions, Summer Sun features none of the feedback you'd associate with your big brother's Yo La Tengo. That's OK...if YLT wants to be grown-up, you can be grown up with them, and bless their hearts, they've given your grown-up self the perfect musical accompaniment for this summer's backyard barbecue.