L-R: Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan, and James McNew. None of them surf.Yo La Tengo
is a Long Running Alternative Rock
band from Hoboken, New Jersey. Founded in 1984 by former music reviewer Ira Kaplan (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and his wife Georgia Hubley (drums, vocals), they went though a series of bassists before settling on James McNew (bass, keyboards, occasional vocals). They've achieved almost no commercial success, but have become a touchstone of indie-rock nerds everywhere thanks to their large back catalogue, consistent output, and endearing songcraft, which is based on a beguiling mix of Kinks
-esque pop-rock, Velvet Underground
balladry, and Sonic Youth
squall and fuzz. The latter helped popularise them in The Nineties
, to the point that they toured with My Bloody Valentine
and Dinosaur Jr.
This band provides examples of:
- The Big Guy: James. He towers over Ira and Georgia.
- Concept Album: Painful and And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, both about a troubled relationships.
- Cover Version: At least one on every album, plus two entire cover albums, Fakebook and Fuckbook. The band's renowned encyclopedic repertoire led to annual fundraising visits to independent radio station WFMU, during which listeners who pledged money could request a song of their choice for Yo La Tengo to attempt to play on the spot; some of these attempts, from "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" to "The Hokey Pokey" are documented in the compilation Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics.
- Creator Couple: Kaplan and Hubley
- Epic Rocking: Extended noise jams typically at or near the end of an album such as "The Evil That Men Do (Pablo's Version)", "Blue Line Swinger", "Spec Bebop", "Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind", and "The Story of Yo La Tango" are common.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Sudden Organ" begins with a rather, well, sudden organ riff.
- And "86-Second Blowout" is exactly 1 minute and 26 seconds.
- Genre Roulette: A lot of albums, most notably I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One.
- Gratuitous Spanish: Their name. It's apparently a very obscure baseball Shout-Out.
- Happily Married: Georgia and Ira. Averted in the case of the married couples in most of their songs.
- Long Runners
- Long Title: I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass.
- Joisey: They're from there, but they don't really fit the stereotype.
- New Sound Album: Several. Painful introduced a lot more guitar noise into the mix, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out featured slower tempos and drum machines, and I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass featured strings and horns much prominently than previous albums.
- No Hit Wonder: they've never achieved any sort of commercial success, but to indie kids and the Pitchfork Media crowd, they're gods.
- Perishing Alt Rock Voice: All the band members have this.
- The Pete Best: Dave Schramm, the second guitarist who left after their first album, as well as pretty much any of the different bassists they worked with before James McNew.
- Pop-Star Composer: They've done soundtracks for several indie films, most notably Adventureland.
- Shout-Out: Various including their name, which is a VERY obscure baseball reference.
- Shown Their Work: Ira could very well be the Quentin Tarantino of rock and retro pop given his astounding knowledge of it.
- Rouge Angles of Satin: "The Story Of Yo La Tango", which is titled that way as a joke about their name frequently being misspelled. This in turn led to people getting the title wrong by correcting the spelling.
- Stockholm Syndrome: "Stockholm Syndrome"
- Three Chords and the Truth: They have their tendencies toward this.
- Turn the Other Cheek: Mr. Tough