Monday, September 25

Track Review: Yo La Tengo

“Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind”
from “I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass”

So this week I was planning on doing a review of another Mystery Jets song, this time something from their UK release. However, I’ve barely had much time to do anything amidst what else is going on. With band camp all week for the UCLA Marching Band, I’ve maybe spent a couple hours in my apartment. So really, I just haven’t been listening to much lately besides marching stuff.

But I did find some time to pick up Yo La Tengo’s new album, “I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass”, and to sample a few tracks off it. Right off the bat, the album probably has one of the coolest titles ever. Really, I’ve seen it kick a few guys’ asses—it sucked for them. Also, the opening track is just awesome.

It starts off layering the groove with drums, then bass, and then some percussion with a strong backbeat. It establishes the groove very nicely, but what’s best are the tones of these instruments and the collective rhythm section. The ride cymbal has just enough of the wash sound so it gives the groove a nice soft layer of sound and some definition, and the toms that come into the verses every now and then have a great low end without being too loud. Also, the bass line is pretty phat. That’s the only way it can be described; the tone is just nice and thick. All of this creates such a nice sounding groove too, that these guys decide that they should just continue playing for pretty much eleven minutes.

Now that is not as badass it sounds. Eleven minutes of the same backbeat and bass line sounds tedious, but it actually passes quickly. The guitar solos all around the song create some very cool melodies every now and then. Then at other times, it’s fooling around with some light feedback and other impromptu things. In addition to that, the drums also play around with the main groove by throwing in toms here and there and playing some short but essential tom fills. In the end, the band keeps everything interesting and fresh.

Yet, I must say that generally I’ve just been playing this song as background music when I get up in the morning and go to bed. It’s not really an active listening piece; I believe it works best if it was just background. And since it is essentially one groove repeated the whole time, it makes sense. That’s why I’m keeping the score lower than I normally would. I really like everything about this song, but I feel that if there could’ve been some verses or chorus with audible lyrics that I might enjoy that a lot. In fact, there’s a lot of places this song could go. It probably could make for a very interesting live song.

Yo La Tengo - Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind

- John Higgins -

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