Yo La Tengo

I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass | Matador
By MATT ASHARE  |  September 18, 2006
3.0 3.0 Stars

As silly as the title sounds, it’s an accurate reflection of the we’re-not-afraid-to-take-on-anything attitude that’s propelled Yo La Tengo through the past dozen years. The days when guitarist Ira Kaplan and drummer Georgia Hubley were a cute proto-indie diversion out of Hoboken have long since passed. Kaplan has grown into a guitar hero capable of long, winding, distortion-fueled solos full of passion, intensity, and feedback drones. With Hubley’s driving drums and solid bass backing, Yo La Tengo have transformed themselves into something of an indie-rock Cream. And the addition years ago of bassist James McNew made possible the use of organ drones for sometimes cryptic, often skewed, always melodic rock excursions. I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass begins with a muscular bass line and a driving beat laying down the foundation for clouds of distorted guitar feedback that grow more menacing over the two and half minutes before Kaplan’s voice emerges from the mix with just enough lyrics to fit around the borders of slowly shifting guitar for a good 10 minutes. But then the band segue into a bright little piano ditty with horns and falsetto vocals before handing the mic over to Hubley for the plaintive and spare strings and piano of “I Feel Like Going Home.” The bossa nova falsetto fest “Mr. Tough” is pop at its most playful. Yet as eclectic as the disc is, it never strays from that warm sense of familiarity, whether Ira and Georgia (husband and wife) are dueting over 12-string figures about the difficulty of relationships (“The Race Is On Again”) or recasting their own story as an epic rock adventure (“The Story of Yo La Tengo”).

YO LA TENGO + WHY? | Avalon, Lansdowne St, Boston | Sept 28 | 617.228.6000

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