I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass

Yo La Tengo (roughly translated from “I’ve Got It!”) are one of those bands that have been critically acclaimed but commercially ignored for most of their career. That’s saying something, too, because they’ve been around since 1984 (formed) and released their first record way back in ’86. Their trajectory has a lot in common with the Flaming Lips, who formed in ’83 and released their first album the same year as YLT’s debut. Like the Lips YLT has an endless supply of creative juices at their disposal and a very restless nature. Unlike the Lips, who have embraced technology and ‘modern’ soundscapes, Yo La Tengo has pretty much stayed within the lines, musically speaking. Less weird, in other words.

I came to the Lips quite late, around 2003 or so, and when I experienced that bands Yoshimi album it reignited a spark to take some chances and try out some new bands to see if they fit. Yo La Tengo was one of those bands, and the album that converted me into a fan was 2006’s “I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass”, a serious contender for the best titled album EVER award. Like so many of my favorite albums it’s rife with eclecticism. A veritable cornucopia of styles and genre exercises that work together as a whole or as individual songs. The opener, “Pass The Hatchet I Think I’m Goodkind” is a Krautrock guitar scronker that takes up almost 11 minutes of CD space but holds your attention for the whole damn thing thanks in part to the inventiveness of guitarist Ira Kaplan.

The rest of the album is a hodge-podge of styles that incorporate such disparate influences as the Byrds, Motown, The Kinks, Love, Television and, of course, the Velvet Underground, Yo La Tengo’s main musical influence.

Allmusic.com will tell you to start with 1997’s “I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One”, and they’re probably right. It’s an excellent choice, but I still prefer this one.