Liner Notes 27.Oct.2022
A look back at Yo La Tengo's Painless record, the new release from Dry Cleaning, and a whole lot more!
Early 90s indie music was marked by a lot of bands burning bright & burning fast.
They came, they rocked, and they imploded. Often in spectacular fashion. Some never to be heard from again. Others climbed out of the wreckage of one band and went to form a new one with a new sound. Meanwhile, Yo La Tengo was always there, steady as ever and churning out records.
They were content to be your favorite band's favorite band.
That's not to say they didn't have issues or skipped their own evolution. Before releasing their 6th record, 1993's Painful, they downsized from a quartet to a trio, played hopscotch between labels, and went through bassists at a Spinal-Tap level pace.
That all changed with Painful.
The band had settled in with bassist James McNew (actually his 2nd record with the band), and he'd gone from "new guy" to an integral part of the group. They were settled in with Matador as their label as well.
That steadiness is reflected in the record itself. Previous YLT records had a bad habit of bouncing between walls of fuzz and something akin to folk rock. Appealing yet inconsistent. Ira Kaplan's vocals could verge into a bratty/sneering style. He hasn't lost his edge, but they've evolved into a more, if not congenial, then conversational style.
One of YLT's hallmarks is that any song feels like it could be remade in a dozen different ways. Much of Painful continues that tradition-see the two wildly different versions of "Big Day Coming" as exhibit A- but it also feels fully fleshed out.
The first lyrics we hear are "Let's be undecided," but Painful is a decisive statement record of a band fully formed. One hitting its stride and never looking back.
Favorites: From a Motel 6, Big Day Coming (Second Version), I Heard You Looking
Below the jump for paid subscribers:
A look at Dry Cleaning’s new record
The rise and fall of SST records
Post-punk form (checks notes) Mason City, Iowa?
A new exhibit honoring the Sound of Philadelphia
And tons more! Check it out!
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