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Popular Songs

Yo La Tengo's 12th album runs 72:49. The closing tracks ratchet up from 9:37 to 11:22 to 15:51, making up over half the record's run time. But Popular Songs isn't "Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun," this is set the controls for the next star over. Alpha Centauri lies 4.37 light years away. You should arrive as those squirkling noises fade out at the end of "And the Glitter Is Gone."

So we have an album-as-conceptual-mix-tape (check the cover) made for one very long trip, during which rolling down windows would be inadvisable and any neighboring vehicles couldn't make out their impeccable musical taste anyway. Tengo's previous recording project, Fuckbook as the Condo Fucks, was all revved-up covers of Nuggets-era garagery. Popular Songs, though all originals, sound like other people's songs. "Taxman" with a hint of Wilson Pickett? "Periodically Double or Triple" and "If It's True" - Motown bass and strings? Only the trio's singing, warm but thin, pricks the illusion.

And the trippy stuff brings back Neil Young and Crazy Horse's slow-burn jams; Velvet Underground's live "What Goes On"; and "We Will Fall," that Stooges tune with an absent backbeat, pseudo-Egyptian invocations, and the ambiance of spending Saturday night trapped inside a giant bong. I do not own a giant bong, I have no spaceship, and I'm not sure yet whether such arrayed influences/tributes shall accrete to transmit an altogether new signal. In the meantime, I sign off on this one as an amazing soundtrack to watching a tree in its prime of life, with its awesome indifference to spaceship-builders, under a gray sky deciding whether to rain.

Album title: Popular Songs (2009)
Artist: Yo La Tengo
Label: Matador
Songs: (1) Here To Fall (2) Avalon Or Someone Very Similar (3) By Twos (4) Nothing To Hide (5) Periodically Double or Triple (6) If It’s True (7) I’m on My Way (8) When It’s Dark (9) All Your Secrets (10) More Stars Than There Are in Heaven (11) The Fireside (12) And the Glitter Is Gone

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Yo La Tengo's 12th album runs 72:49. The closing tracks ratchet up from 9:37 to 11:22 to 15:51, making up over half the record's run time. But Popular Songs isn't "Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun," this is set the controls for the next star over. Alpha Centauri lies 4.37 light years away. You should arrive as those squirkling noises fade out at the end of "And the Glitter Is Gone."

So we have an album-as-conceptual-mix-tape (check the cover) made for one very long trip, during which rolling down windows would be inadvisable and any neighboring vehicles couldn't make out their impeccable musical taste anyway. Tengo's previous recording project, Fuckbook as the Condo Fucks, was all revved-up covers of Nuggets-era garagery. Popular Songs, though all originals, sound like other people's songs. "Taxman" with a hint of Wilson Pickett? "Periodically Double or Triple" and "If It's True" - Motown bass and strings? Only the trio's singing, warm but thin, pricks the illusion.

And the trippy stuff brings back Neil Young and Crazy Horse's slow-burn jams; Velvet Underground's live "What Goes On"; and "We Will Fall," that Stooges tune with an absent backbeat, pseudo-Egyptian invocations, and the ambiance of spending Saturday night trapped inside a giant bong. I do not own a giant bong, I have no spaceship, and I'm not sure yet whether such arrayed influences/tributes shall accrete to transmit an altogether new signal. In the meantime, I sign off on this one as an amazing soundtrack to watching a tree in its prime of life, with its awesome indifference to spaceship-builders, under a gray sky deciding whether to rain.

Album title: Popular Songs (2009)
Artist: Yo La Tengo
Label: Matador
Songs: (1) Here To Fall (2) Avalon Or Someone Very Similar (3) By Twos (4) Nothing To Hide (5) Periodically Double or Triple (6) If It’s True (7) I’m on My Way (8) When It’s Dark (9) All Your Secrets (10) More Stars Than There Are in Heaven (11) The Fireside (12) And the Glitter Is Gone

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1

Excellent piece of writing, Andrew. There's some fresh, imaginative description here that's fun to read.

Sept. 18, 2009

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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