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Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock

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Overview

The first biography of Yo La Tengo, the massively influential band who all but defined indie music.

Yo La Tengo has lit up the indie scene for three decades, part of an underground revolution that defied corporate music conglomerates, eschewed pop radio, and found a third way. Going behind the scenes of one of the most remarkable eras in American music history, Big Day Coming traces the patient rise of husband-and-wife team Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, who—over three ...

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Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock

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Overview

The first biography of Yo La Tengo, the massively influential band who all but defined indie music.

Yo La Tengo has lit up the indie scene for three decades, part of an underground revolution that defied corporate music conglomerates, eschewed pop radio, and found a third way. Going behind the scenes of one of the most remarkable eras in American music history, Big Day Coming traces the patient rise of husband-and-wife team Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, who—over three decades—helped forge a spandex-and-hairspray-free path to the global stage, selling millions of records along the way and influencing countless bands.

Using the continuously vital Yo La Tengo as a springboard, Big Day Coming uncovers the history of the legendary clubs, bands, zines, labels, record stores, college radio stations, fans, and pivotal figures that built the infrastructure of the now-prevalent indie rock world. Journalist and freeform radio DJ Jesse Jarnow draws on all-access interviews and archives for mesmerizing trip through contemporary music history told through one of its most creative and singular acts.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Yo La Tengo, the influential rock band formed in the post-punk fervor of the early 1980s and still going strong today, receives its due in this fascinating if sprawling biography by music journalist Jarnow. He focuses primarily on the band’s founders, Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, and their efforts to make a quirky, eclectic sound out of their many influences and their “equally intense love of art-noise bands like Mission of Burma alongside perennial favorites NRBQ, the Kinks, and others.” Jarnow is clearly an unabashed fan of the band and its creators, who he describes as “a nearly ageless rock-and-roll couple in loving bohemian matrimony.” But he is also out for bigger game: an attempt to use Yo La Tengo to chart the rise of alternative or “indie” rock. He details the early days of rising and soon-to-be influential bands such as Black Flag and the Replacements experimenting in Maxwell’s, Yo La Tengo’s favorite bar in its home base of Hoboken, N.J. He excels at following the intricate rise and fall of indie labels such as Gerard Cosloy’s Homestead Records. And he captures the all-encompassing spirit of the current post-indie scene, a “continuum between the Velvet Underground at Max’s Kansas City and the eternal now of live music.” (July)
Library Journal
Jarnow, a former contributing editor to Paste and Relix magazines, chronicles the slow and steady rise of Yo La Tengo, a band that helped define indie rock. He includes a great number of details—everything from how drummer Georgia Hubley's parents met to where the band ate before lead man Ira Kaplan's worst show to the cavalcade of bass players prior to James McNew. Jarnow follows the band, which formed in 1984, from their shows at famed Hoboken, NJ, bar Maxwell's to such festivals as South by Southwest and Lollapalooza. He also addresses more recent moments in indie rock, such as the birth of sync licensing in the late 1990s to combat a loss of profit from the MP3 and Napster. Jarnow is clearly a fan, and his passion is evident in his sometimes painfully detailed accounts of Yo La Tengo's development over more than 25 years. VERDICT Despite Jarnow's interviews with the band members and their associates, married principals Kaplan and Hubley come off as mysterious; more personal anecdotes would have given this account more heart. Still, beyond a band biography, Jarnow perfectly captures the 1980s-90s indie music scene. This is a good read for passionate indie rock/punk fans. [See Prepub Alert, 12/5/11.]—Allegra Young, Canadian Music Ctr., Toronto
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592407156
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/5/2012
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 990,905
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jesse Jarnow is a music journalist and the host of The Frow Show on WFMU, an independent radio station based in Jersey City. His work has appeared in The London Times, Rolling Stone, Spin, and other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, where he is in the band Sloppy Heads.

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