Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Yo La Tengo showed us where they keep their secrets and crossed hope with reality straight down to the bitter end with the swelling surge of this blue line swinger.   With the promotion of James McNew to full fledged member for 'Painful' in 1993, the band had found their sweet spot; but they were ready to turn a corner with their process.   

Ira Kaplan reveals:   "Nobody wants to have a strict definition of 'this is what the band does and this is what the band doesn’t do.' Everyone changes as people and we want the group to reflect the changes in our own lives...It doesn’t necessarily change it for the better or change it for the worse, but it certainly changes it and similarly, as one gets older all sorts of things happen to change the role music has in your life and the way you hear it...I think there was a big [watershed moment]. As I said, we get together and just play and see what happens...But one of our favorite artists, Jad Fair, from the band Half Japanese, asked us to be his band for a recording and we agreed and then he said, 'Do you want to rehearse or do you want to just start recording and see what happens?' We said, 'We’ll do what you would you do normally.' He said, 'I’d just get together and play and see what happens.' So we decided to do that and we had a great time doing it.  We were really excited by the results and could hear that it was different from things we had done before and I think inspired by that session. That really kind of motivated us to write our own songs that way, too, and just kind of sort of try to pluck the kernel of the song out of the air and then work on it later. The first record we made primarily that way was “Electr-O-Pura” in 1995."

'Electr-O-Pura' was recorded at Alex The Great Studios in Nashville, Tennessee and produced by Roger Moutenot for Matador Records.   The tracks were mixed at Sound On Sound in New York City and mastered by Greg Calbi at Masterdisk. "Pablo and Andrea" and "False Alarm" are based on improvised backing tracks for Jad Fair that were recorded with Fred Brockman at Snack Time North (RIP). "Thanks to Steve for the drums and Danny for the bed."

'Electr-O-Pura' did not chart; but it remains the centerpiece of a trilogy of their most consistent and influential albums, between 'Painful' and 'I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One'.  

"Tom Courtenay" 
Kaplan:   "The idea [behind the video] was mostly the director's, Phil Morrison. I guess I had come up with this idea with us re-enacting scenes from '60s films, and then Phil realized that that was a little impractical. Besides, we're talking about stuff that's 30 years old, and that only a handful of people would get. I wanted to do "Swinging London," and we kind of did get the Beatles thing from there."

"Pablo and Andrea"

"Paul Is Dead"


"(Straight Down to the) Bitter End"

 "Blue Line Swinger"

full album:

all songs written by Yo La Tengo

"Decora" – 3:27
"Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1)" – 6:42
"The Hour Grows Late" – 3:06
"Tom Courtenay" – 3:30
"False Ending" – :56
"Pablo and Andrea" – 4:16
"Paul Is Dead" – 2:26
"False Alarm" – 5:28
"The Ballad of Red Buckets" – 4:00
"Don't Say a Word (Hot Chicken #2)" – 3:28
"(Straight Down to the) Bitter End" – 3:59
"My Heart's Reflection" – 6:02
"Attack on Love" – 1:52
"Blue Line Swinger" – 9:19

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