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For the better part of two decades, Yo La Tengo have committed themselves to blazing new paths through rock's densest underbrush, sometimes with a tornado of squalling feedback, other times opting for subtle, stealthier innovation. The trio stick pretty close to the latter approach for most of Summer Sun, the first full-length YLT disc in more than three years. At its best, as on the ten-minute "Let's Be Still," the results are hypnotizing, practically narcotic in effect. That song, which builds, inch by breathless inch, into a cathedral-like sonic structure, is as minimal as can be -- using little more than muted reeds and looped piano -- but it's a perfect example of how less can be more. Similarly, the band's faithful, pedal-steel laced cover of Big Star's poignant "Take Care" wafts through the air with the slightest of fuss, caressing the skin like a soft summer breeze. When the Yo Las expand their palette -- as on "Tiny Birds," which is buoyed by the cello playing of Antietam's Tim Harris -- they do so without fanfare. Likewise, when they bring in a host of New York's most experimental jazz players (William Parker and Roy Campbell among them) to chime in on "Beach Party Tonight" and "Don't Have to Be So Sad," the recordings are far from self-consciously arty, and a lot closer to a seaside fun fair. A thoughtful, ideal way to unwind on those starry summer nights.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What's up 24 hour partay people? This is Billy the D coming at you from Hoboken, the home of YO LA!! I go to all of their Chanukah shows every year wearing a yamulke. You're probably all jealous of me, but what can I say? I'm the Billy D and I'm hip! Look for me at the next YO LA show! I'm usually wearing sandals and tie-dye. Word 'em up!