The original buzz on Stuff Like That There, Yo La Tengo’s fourteenth studio album, was it was a cover album. The reality is a bit different. Like the iconic Facebook, this is a complicated album. It is part cover album but also contains some reworking of the bands own material plus a couple of new songs. It is all uniquely Yo La Tengo and a welcome addition to indie’s most sturdy cornerstone in pure indie rock.
The pure covers are diverse to say the least. They are issued in the acoustic often twangy Yo La Tengo style and not the fuzzy riff version of the band. The great standout is the much buzzed about cover of The Cure staple “Friday I’m in Love”. When bands cover extremely recognizable material, they can either do pure homage or attempt to do something unique making it there own. The trio goes for unique turning this pop rock ballad into a folky almost country tune. It is an obvious standout being one of the most know covers and will surely become a classic re-invention.
The second most recognizable cover is the Hank Williams classic “I’m So Lonesome I could Cry”. Georgia Hubley takes lead on this spectacular rendition. She sounds hearbroken but lends bit of bitter sweetness as well. The band does a fantastic job utilizing space giving this song room to breath and let the beautiful lyrics carry the weight.
The remaining covers tend to be more obscure. The opening “My Heart’s Not In It” is a 1964 soul song by Darlene McCrea rearranged to again focus more on the vocals. Similar is the handling of George Clinton and Parliament’s “I Can Feel the Ice Melting” where raw funk is replaced with more constrained yet still emotionally charged delivery.
For the their own material the band chose to rework “All Your Secrets”, “The Ballad of Red Buckets”, and “Deeper Into Movies”. It is a interesting choice of songs for varying points in the bands career. Like the other material, these songs are aired out and opened up. The new track “Rickety” is a nice addition with bass felt throughout. “Awhileaway”, the other original, is beautiful dreamy ballad perfect to get loss in on a warm day.
Stuff Like That There is not a traditional cover album. The band once again shows off their diverse musical taste picking a broad range of source material. Not all the songs are know by the listen but at that hands of Yo La Tengo they become a cohesive collection. This is a fine album that gives a deeper insight into a band that has been making music for over two decades.
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