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Yo La Tengo is Murdering the Classics

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With a title inspired by an old Spike Jones LP, Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics delivers exactly what its title claims. As the "house band" for the New Jersey listener-supported freeform radio station WFMU, Yo La Tengo has raised money annually by agreeing to perform listener requests in exchange for pledges. These recordings are taken from these off-the-cuff performances made live on the air between 1996 and 2003. Unlike Yo La Tengo's official album of (mostly) covers—the well-rehearsed and thought-out FakebookMurdering suggests that the band sometimes barely knows the song in question. Yet Yo La Tengo's enthusiasm gets it through everything from The Replacements' "Favorite Thing" to The Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)." Whether the band is playing for its local crowd with the baseball cheer "Meet the Mets" or nodding to avant-garde listeners with Yoko Ono's "Don't Worry, Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)," the results are endearing, hilarious, and often amateurish. The local bar bands have nothing to worry about; Yo La Tengo won't be stealing their Saturday-night gigs anytime soon.


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 Yo...
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