The Upshot: Amazing collection of covers a la 1990 classic Fakebook that tackles Hank Williams, Lovin’ Spoonful, The Cure and loads more.
BY JOHN B. MOORE
One of the great things about Yo La Tengo is you’re never quite sure which band you’re going to get either on record or at a show. Is it the feedback-heavy noise rock trio or the smart kid pop band with sweet harmonies and catchy hooks?
So what did they opt for this time? An album of covers – wait. Hear me out before move on. Yes, the covers album is almost always the tangible product of a band throwing its collective arms up in the air and saying, “fuck it. We’ve got nothing else, so let’s just re-record someone else’s stuff.” And, yes, the band did the same thing back in 1990, when they put out Fakebook. But every now and then, and admittedly it’s very rare, but a band will take someone else’s songs and completely re-arrange them in such a way that it seems like the originals were being played wrong from the beginning. Think Johnny Cash and his American Recordings period; think Nirvana covering the Meat Puppets… ok, maybe it’s not as great as those two examples, but it’s a pretty amazing collection nonetheless. Think 1990’s Fakebook.
On Stuff Like That There, this time around the band flawlessly tackles Hank Williams (“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”), The Cure (“Friday I’m in Love”) and The Lovin’ Spoonful (“Butchie’s Tune”), among others. And while the Hank Williams ditty is already arguable the world’s greatest tear-in-my-beer song, the band – re-joined by original guitarist Dave Schramm on this record – brings sweet melancholy to a whole new level with this collection of standards and deep cuts.
Thirty years together and the band is still managing to keep its fans guessing, in the best way possible.
DOWNLOAD: “Friday I’m in Love,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “I Can Feel the Ice Melting”