I don’t know much about Yo La Tengo, other than that they are one of indie rock‘s greatest acts, having been active since 1984 and signed to Matador Records — which is something of a “mid-major” now, to borrow a college basketball term — since 1993. Matador‘s current roster is stacked with excellent artists: Interpol, Belle and Sebastian, the New Pornographers, Cat Power, Queens of the Stone Age, and Kurt Vile. Past releases by artists no longer with the label include Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted (1992), Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville (1993), Guided by Voices’ Bee Thousand (1994), all of which were created shock waves in the indie music community when they were released. If you follow indie rock, then these artists and albums will be known to you, and the fact that so much greatness has come through Matador‘s doors since its founding in 1989 is pretty staggering.
Yo La Tengo, despite being critically lauded, had escaped me until 2013, when I decided to give their latest album Fade a try, and I’m glad I did, since it’s damn good. It has a springy, airy openness that I dig, and there are some really good tracks like the opener, “Ohm,” the closer, “Before We Run,” and the penultimate track, “The Point of It.” Not only is its approach is pretty singular — by this point, Yo La Tengo has carved out a sound that’s pretty much their own — but Fade is wonderfully mellow, as well. It’s a great album to just put on at the end of a long day, and by the time it’s done washing over you, you want to play it again.