Yo La Tengo: Danelectro

Yo La Tengo




IN ROMANTIC MOVIES, there is always a musical interlude that condenses weeks of courtship into a montage of beach walks and shared-soda giggles. If you could somehow view the full span of the relationship--from infatuation to annihilation over the course of years--Yo La Tengo would surely provide the score. Since 1986, drummer/vocalist Georgia Hubley has honed her voice into a whisper as delicate and finely wrought as a tinsel web, floating above the whispered nothings of James McNew's bass and Ira Kaplan's guitars. The heartbreaking lyrics on the band's last album And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out make you want to infiltrate the band's inner realm, and proclaim, "By some heroic feat, I will be the one to break through your stare-at-your-shoes shyness!" But when the self-conscious vocals give way to a bold instrumental EP like Danelectro, you remember the horrible truth: Hubley is married to Kaplan, and both of them are out of your league.

Danelectro lets Yo La Tengo play the part of indie-rock Aaron Copland, setting a roll in the hay to the sound of a Southern pastorale. Two of the three previously unreleased instrumentals on the album were recorded in Nashville, and the three remixes of these instrumentals (by MC Q-Unique, Kit Clayton, and Japanese minimalist Kobe) retain a strain of a banjo showdown within their club-kid noise collage. The opening track, "Danelectro 3," pulses with the folk drawl of muted guitars while distant drums chug along like a midnight train to Georgia. The sparse, John Fahey-like strumming of "Danelectro 1" is punctuated with what sounds like electric cricket chirping. Even the scratched-record samples at the beginning of Q-Unique's "Danelectro 1" remix overlap like stray waves of soul music picked up on a trucker's radio during a trip across the Bible Belt.

Building up their trademark noise to a level that recalls their forebears in the Velvet Underground, Danelectro is even heavier with layered samples and damper pedals than YLT's previous albums. And if you still miss the vocals, you can improvise your own lyrics about James McNew. He's still available.