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Popular Songs (Bonus Track Version)

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Editors’ Notes

More than two decades spent exploring the influences and textures of indie-rock have given Yo La Tengo an authoritative grasp on everything from Velvet Underground feedback drones to metronomic Krautrock grooving to light and free Parisian pop. 2009’s Popular Songs maintains the trio’s free-form pursuit. “Here to Fall” skims several different genres as its guitars crash, burn and shimmer in allegiance to an elusive stylistic genre they practically invented. Georgia Hubley takes the mic for the ‘60s pop flow of “Avalon or Someone Very Similar.” Later on, the band switches gears with the space exploration of “By Two’s.” “Nothing to Hide” returns the band to earth for an earnest guitar number laced with feedback. “If It’s True” shuffles with amiable early-‘60s pop. “I’m On My Way” leisurely paces itself with organ and subdued electric guitars. “The Fireside” closed the album with more than 11 minutes of slow, ambient tone poem, preceded by the 16-minute feedback-charged blow-out (“And the Glitter Is Gone”).

Customer Reviews

another classic from Yo La Tengo

Over the last 15 years or so, Yo La Tengo has been so consistently excellent, that it is easy to overlook just how unique and well crafted their records are. "Popular Songs" is no exception. Where 2006's "I Am Not Afraid of You..." hit like a proverbial punch in the face, "Popular Songs" is more contemplative; it's the kind of record that might catch you off guard with its brilliance while you sip your morning coffee. While the ingredients are the same (the hushed vocal interplay between Ira and Georgia, catchy melodies, sonic landscapes and fuzz-filled guitar freakouts, to name a few), there's a timeless quality to the material on "Popular Songs", and no matter how often you listen to the album, it just keeps getting better. In the Yo La Tengo catalog, "Popular Songs" ranks up there with "I Can Feel the Heart Beating As One" as one of the band's best.

Like your favorite sweater, perfectly fitted for the season.

Yo La Tengo pulls out the socks drawer, takes your favorite warm fuzzy slip-on's, and puts on all the warmth you need this autumn to treck down to the coffee shop. Tune and and bliss out to some of the mellowist, fuzziest vibes in their collection yet. Never conventional Yo La Tengo takes their songs on many unexpected turns, even defying the title, these songs belong not on the top 40 stations, but on every late summer indie playlist.

Relaxing and entertaining

Yo La Tengo's newest album has a mostly pretty relaxed, mellow mood which is very enjoyable and pleasant. It's not quite as consistently good as their previous release, "I am not afraid of you..." but it's still a good listen overall.

1. Here to Fall - the opening track has a vaguely psychedelic feel to it, with some interesting work with strings.
2. Avalon or Someone Very Similar - a very pleasant and enjoyable song featuring higher-range vocals.
3. By Two's - one of my favorites from the album. Very understated and dreamy, and also a little moody. Definitely reccomended.
4. Nothing to Hide - a quick and catchy pop song in the same vein as "sugarcube." Very enjoyable.
5. Periodically Double or Triple - a very entertaining R & B-ish song featuring a completely insane organ solo.
6. If It's True - a cheerful duet. It's pretty good, but not essential.
7. I'm on my Way - a gorgeous song featuring a dreamy guitar line.
8. When it's Dark - another mellow winner with lovely vocals. The chorus is fantastic.
9. All Your Secrets - this one isn't great. It's again got the mellow, relaxed mood, but it pails in comparison to the more memorable songs with the same mood that came before it.
10. More Stars than there are in Heaven - This one's relaxing, but it isn't nearly interesting enough to justify its ridiculous run time.
11. The Fireside - of the overlong songs at the end, this is the one I enjoy most. The repeated acoustic strum is pleasantly surreal and it's interesting how the song gradually builds up, although it's only an enjoyable song if you're in the right mood.
12. And the Glitter is Gone - an endless, directionless guitar solo. Similar to "pass the hatchet" from I am Not Afraid of You, except much more indulgent and much less memorable. A disappointing note to end the album on.

It's a good album for the most part, though it's also uneven. If you enjoy mellow, pleasant, relaxing music than you'll probably like most of this album, although I'd recommend skipping "more stars than there are in heaven" and "and the glitter is gone."

Highlights:
Here to Fall
By Two's
Periodically Double or Triple
I'm on My Way
When It's Dark

Biography

Formed: 1984 in Hoboken, NJ

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Yo La Tengo are in many respects the quintessential critics' band: in addition to their adventurous eclecticism, defiant independence, and restless creative ambition — three qualities that virtually guarantee music press acclaim — the group's frontman, Ira Kaplan, even tenured as a rock scribe prior to finding success as a performer. So frequently compared to the Velvet Underground that they even portrayed the legendary group in the 1996 film I Shot Andy Warhol, the Hoboken, New Jersey-based...
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