Recordings: Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

    For its latest album, this three-decade old indie band pumps out nothing new, but does so with characteristic vigor and good charm that, at best, makes a good iPod filler.

    Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

    The opening 10-minute-plus guitar jam “Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind” seems determined to sonically describe its title, roaring authentic, shoulder-swaggering rock-and-roll that lovers of Yo La Tengo will adore for Ira Kaplan’s uber-cool distortion. Others may hate it for its unexpected riffs that paradoxically, like a favorite wool sweater, sooth and scratch.

    “Beanbag Chair” follows, a total sleep-lulling turnaround from the mean guitar strokes of the intro. The rest sounds a bit more like Yo La Tengo as we’ve known them in their recent past: classic piano chords, distant but jazzy singing and the tranquilizing lull of trombones and violin strings. The simple lyrics of “Black Flowers” (“You never sleep enough/ Your alarm is going off/ You wake up and you can’t pretend the dream is just a dream again”) is almost a tribute to Elliot Smith in its taste for sorrow, and “The Story of Yo La Tengo” yields a magical unfolding of instruments.

    Hunt down this album before it hunts you first, and relish the many ways with which you can recite “I am not afraid of you and I will beat your ass.” Then post online at iamnotafraidofyouandiwillbeatyourass.com, a video wall of brilliant, high-art level documentation of the recited title.

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