Posts Tagged ‘Ira Kaplan’

The song title’s reference to stable ground is upended as reality is seen slipping away and replaced by manipulations or mediations. Against the backdrop of today’s political, economic, and environmental climate, the material world is distorted beyond recognition and the “screen” has become our most reliable means of community and communication, acting as an interface between us and lived reality. Closing with the line “all is all of it now,” the song gives expression to the contemporary experience of totalizing media and the enduring desire for finding connection to others in a world that privileges other values.” – CARM, CARM is the debut self-titled album of multi-instrumentalist, producer, and arranger CJ Camerieri. Whether it’s playing the iconic piccolo trumpet solo on Paul Simon’s “The Boxer;” anthemic horn parts on songs like The National’s “Fake Empire,” Sufjan Stevens’ “Chicago,” or Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago;” or performing with his contemporary classical ensemble yMusic; or recording lush beds of french horns for artists from John Legend to The Tallest Man on Earth, you have undoubtedly heard the virtuosity of Camerieri.

He is the musician that musicians want to play with, and that is further evidenced by the cast on his debut. Since completing his classical trumpet training at The Juilliard School and quickly joining the touring band for Sufjan Stevens, Camerieri has played trumpet, french horn, and keyboards for some of the most important artists of our time. He founded the classical ensemble yMusic, joined Bon Iver—winning two Grammy awards for the band’s sophomore album and became an integral member of Paul Simon’s touring band in 2014, assuming a pivotal role in the legend’s last two records. According to Camerieri, “CARM started with the question: ‘What kind of record would my trumpet-playing heroes from the past make today?’ I believe Miles Davis would want to work with the best producers, beat makers, song-writers, and singers to create truly culturally relevant music, and that’s what I sought to do with this project.” The record was produced in Minneapolis by Ryan Olson (Gayngs, Polica, Lizzo) and features collaborations with Sufjan Stevens, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Yo La Tengo, Shara Nova (My Brightest Diamond), Mouse on Mars, Jake Luppen (Hippo Campus), and many others.

It is a completely unique sound that additionally serves as a survey of the many collaborations that have come to define the artist’s career thus far. The album begins with an orchestral brass choir of french horns, which quickly gives way to a piano sample of Francis and the Lights, as Stevens and Luppen combine voices over a lush bed of horns to sing “Song of Trouble” The album bookends with the same piano sample used as a springboard to a beautiful and iconic lyric by Vernon in the album closer “Land” Between these two generation-defining artists we have the upward sweeping melodies in “Soft Night” fanfares reminiscent of Ennio Morricone in “Nowhere” and the uncompromisingly original sound of Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo in “Already Gone”.

Two dark and mysterious journeys in “After Hours” and “Invisible Walls” give way to the virtuoso sound of Nova’s voice, who the artist stood side-by-side with in his first Sufjan Stevens tour over a decade ago. “Slantwise” and “Scarcely Out” take us back down a more experimental path before the strings from yMusic members Rob Moose and Gabriel Cabezas bring us back to the piano sample that started the record. Given the oversaturated contemporary music market that often recycles well-trodden sounds, CARM offers a respite for those seeking an original voice.


Released January 22nd, 2021

Produced by Ryan Olson and CARM. Featuring guest vocals by Sufjan Stevens, Shara Nova, Justin Vernon, Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan, Lupin, Cliff Rhymes, and Benson Ramsey.

Also featuring Mouse on Mars, Francis Starlite, Jake Hanson, Mike Boschen, Chris Bierden, Mark McGee, Amati, Joe Westerlund, Dustin Zahn, Alex Nutter, Trever Hagen, Nick Camerieri, Hideaki Aomori, Mick Rossi, Bryan Nichols, Rob Moose, Gabe Cabezas.

The first single from the debut album, out 22nd January 2021 with 37d03d Records

yo la tengo

Yo La Tengo have already given their loyal fans a beautiful vinyl reissue of 1995’s Electr-O-Pura and a new album of ambient quar-core instrumentals (We Have Amnesia Sometimes) this year. If that’s not enough, they have this EP on the way, featuring low-key covers of the Byrds’ “Wasn’t Born to Follow,” Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” and the Flying Machine’s Sixties pop hit “Smile a Little Smile for Me,” plus a few others. The songs were selected by the Japanese painter Yoshitomo Nara — another artist who’s fond of working subtle variations on a repeated theme — as part of a Los Angeles County Museum of Art retrospective of his work, and now the charming results will be available for wider listening.

On October. 9th, Yo La Tengo will release Sleepless Night a new EP featuring a slew of covers, as well as a stand-alone single – “Bleeding” The project arrives after Yo La Tengo originally collaborated with Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara.

Explained YLT’s Ira Kaplan via press release: “We met Yoshitomo Nara in 2003, would see him at his art shows and our concerts…To make the catalogue of his 2020 exhibit at LACMA more personal, the idea came up to include an LP of some of Nara’s favourite songs as part of a deluxe edition. We were asked to provide one side of the LP (and that one track be a new composition), with the other side being another six songs selected by Nara, in their original versions. Here are the six songs we contributed to the LACMA record, chosen in collaboration with Nara.”

Yo La Tengo back with a new EP titled Sleepless Night, which follows their instrumental collection that dropped a few weeks ago. The EP is out now via Matador Records, and it features six tracks: five covers and one new original song titled “Bleeding.” The covers include songs by The Byrds, Bob Dylan, The Delmore Brothers, Ronnie Lane and The Flying Machine. Sleepless Night was originally released as part of artist Yoshitomo Nara’s retrospective exhibition at the LACMA. Nara also helped choose the EP’s tracklist, and made the cover art.

Don’t say they never did anything for you, lovers of mellow indie-psych drones.

Release date: October 9th, ‘Sleepless Night’ is the new EP from Yo La Tengo, out October 9th on Matador Records.

On October. 9th, Yo La Tengo will release “Sleepless Night” a new EP featuring a slew of covers, including a newly released version of The Byrds’ “Wasn’t Born To Follow. The project arrives after Yo La Tengo originally collaborated with Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara to create these tracks for a recent retrospective.“ We met Yoshitomo Nara in 2003, would see him at his art shows and our concerts,” explained YLT’s Ira Kaplan via press release. “…To make the catalogue of his 2020 exhibit at LACMA more personal, the idea came up to include an LP of some of Nara’s favourite songs as part of a deluxe edition. We were asked to provide one side of the LP (and that one track be a new composition), with the other side being another six songs selected by Nara, in their original versions. Here are the six songs we contributed to the LACMA record, chosen in collaboration with Nara.”Other selections include work by The Delmore Brothers, Bob Dylan, Ronnie Lane, and The Flying Machine. 

The Matador version of the EP is a single-sided 12” with original cover art by Nara, a drawing of the band by Hubley, and an illustration by McNew etched on the record’s flip.

Ira Kaplan on ‘Sleepless Night’:

We met Yoshitomo Nara in 2003, would see him at his art shows and our concerts. We dj’d at an opening at the Asia Society, and on another occasion he drew a picture of Georgia strangling me on a Gloomy pencil case that became one of Georgia’s prized possessions until it was stolen from her at the bar at the K-West hotel in Shepherd’s Bush. To make the catalogue of his 2020 exhibit at LACMA more personal, the idea came up to include an LP of some of Nara’s favorite songs as part of a deluxe edition.  We were asked to provide one side of the LP (and that one track be a new composition), with the other side being another six songs selected by Nara, in their original versions.  Here are the six songs we contributed to the LACMA record, chosen in collaboration with Nara.

I probably was introduced to “Blues Stay Away from Me” on NRBQ’s Workshop lp, working backwards to the Louvin Brothers and the Delmore Brothers (with a detour to Doug Sahm and Band). Our version was recorded by Mark Nevers in February 2011.  Charlie Louvin had died just a couple of days before. We were on a tour with William Tyler that came to an end in Nashville. The three of us and William and Kurt Wagner threw together an arrangement of “Blues Stay Away from Me” as a tribute and closed our show at the Exit/In with it. Since we were hanging around Nashville for a few days before going home, we went to Mark’s studio and recorded it.

“Wasn’t Born to Follow” was recorded by Gene Holder as part of the sessions that resulted in Stuff Like That There. Dave Schramm on lead guitar. I’m sure I heard the Byrds’ song for the first time when my mom took me and a bunch of my friends to see Easy Rider. (One kid was forbidden by his parents from joining us, as was my younger brother.  My dad took my brother to see Butch Cassidy instead, and I’m guessing my friend stayed home and did homework.)

Ronnie Lane didn’t write “Roll On Babe,” but his is the version we’re covering. James recorded it in Hoboken.  (And that song was among the songs Georgia played when we dj’d at the Asia Society.)

While making ‘And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out’ in Nashville, Roger Moutenot recorded Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” for a John Peel birthday show. As best as we can tell, we sent the one and only copy of the master to England. Yes, we’re as dumbfounded as you are, if not more so. After a lot of sleuthing, we came up with this.

“Bleeding” was written by us, recorded in Hoboken by James.

James also recorded The Flying Machine’s “Smile a Little Smile for Me” for Michael Shelley’s Super Hit Tsunami!, available to people who pledged to WFMU’s 2019 fundraising marathon.

Track List:

Blues Stay Away
Wasn’t Born to Follow
Roll On Babe
It Takes a Lot to Laugh
Smile a Little Smile for Me

Sleepless Night’ is the new EP from Yo La Tengo, out October 9th on Matador Records.

The 40 Best Yo La Tengo Songs

With the release of the band’s 15th album, There’s a Riot Going On, last week, the time was right to reappraise the trio’s discography  There’s a Riot Going On is a good one, but so far none of its songs have jumped off to become my absolute favorites. That’d be a tall order for any band.

And if you’re somehow wondering who these Yo La Tengo guys are in the first place, well, they’re a Alt rock band—and a really good rock band. The husband-wife team of guitarist Ira Kaplan and drummer Georgia Hubley started the band in Hoboken in 1984, and released four albums with a variety of partners and sidemen and on a handful of labels before incorporating bassist James McNew on the 1992 full-length May I Sing With Me. The next year they released their breakout record Painful on Matador, a partnership that endures to this day.  Painful is where their “disparate influences congealed into a fully formed style of the band’s own, from early ‘60s folk and pop to the post-Velvets diaspora of noise and punk,” and that’s still a good summation. They’re about as likely to play a three-minute pop gem as they are a forlorn folk song, a 10-minute one-note drone, a cover of a classic hit from the ‘70s, or a crazed, 20-minute noise jam. And they do it all with the same level of proficiency, confidence and humility. Again, but they’re are a really good rock band,


All song were original recorded by © Yo La Tengo , except “The Whole of The Law”(by The Only Ones and re recorded by YLT)

Discography, Albums

Ride the Tiger (1986)
New Wave Hot Dogs (1987)
President Yo La Tengo (1989)
Fakebook (1990)
May I Sing with Me (1992)
Painful (1993)
Electr-O-Pura (1995)
Genius + Love = Yo La Tengo (with Jad Fair e Daniel Johnston) (1996)
I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (1997)
And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out (2000)
The Sounds of the Sounds of Science (2002)
Summer Sun (2003)
Prisoners of Love: A Smattering of Scintillating Senescent Songs: 1985-2003 (2004)
Yo La Tengo is Murdering the Classics (2006)
I’m Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass (2006)
Popular Songs (2009)
Fade (2013)

On 1971’s There’s A Riot Goin On, Sly And The Family Stone filtered the creeping hangover of the ’60s into a murky, slurring monument of fugue-state funk. It was an album that reflected the twilight mood of its time: Woodstock optimism ossifying into Altamont dread, “free love” fading into porno reels inside 42nd St. grindhouses, stoned grooves edging into junkie paranoia (and dovetailing with Sly Stone’s own descent into addiction). In its muffled cries, There’s A Riot offered a bitter, brooding response to a world that seemed to be rapidly falling apart, one that recommended just barring the windows and getting good and numb.

In nicking the title for its newest record, released amid a similarly epochal American, Yo La Tengo posits its own There’s A Riot Going On as a similar Album For These Times. Though the long-running indie band has hesitated to say as much in interviews, the press materials refer to the free-floating “confusion and anxiety” in the air that inspired it, suggesting it’s an “expression of freedom and sanity” that similarly captures a nation teetering on the edge. But this isn’t a collection of protest anthems, nor is it even the kind of alarming, seismic stylistic shift Sly Stone pulled to announce his disillusionment with the soul-dream he’d started. It finds Yo La Tengo working in an especially hushed, candlelit mood, not too far off from the dusky lullabies of 2000’s And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out. The album is not a reflection of anger so much as a meditative retreat from it—less agitprop than aromatherapy session.

Having followed Yo La Tengo for awhile . Their new album “There’s a riot going on”. These are dark times, in our heads as much as in the streets. It’s easy to lose contact with the ground, flying through endless banks of storm clouds day after day. Confusion and anxiety intrude into daily life and cause you to lose your compass. There are times that call for anthems, something to lift you out of your slump and put fire in your feet. And then there are times when what is indicated is a balm, a sound that will wrap around you and work out the knots in your neck. While there’s a riot going on, Yo La Tengo will remind you what it’s like to dream. The sound burbles and washes and flows and billows. If records were dedicated to the cardinal elements, this one would be water. There are shimmery hazes, spectral rumbles, a flash of backward masking, ghostly flamingos calling “shoo-bop shoo-bop.” You are there. And even if your mind is not unclouded–shaken, misdirected, out of words and out of time – you can still float, ride the waves of an ocean deeper than your worries, above the sound and above the Sound. For Yo La Tengo this is a slow-motion action painting, and Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan, and James McNew did it all themselves, in their rehearsal studio, with no outside engineer (John McEntire later did the mix). They did not rehearse or jam together beforehand; they turned on the recorder and let things coalesce. Songs came together over long stretches, sometimes as much as a year going by between parts. You’d never guess this, since the layers are finessed with such a liquid brush. You’d imagine most of the songs had sprung forth whole, since they will enter your head that way. Within two listens you will be powerless to resist the magnetic draw of Shades of Blue, will involuntarily hear She May, She Might on your internal jukebox first thing in the morning and Let’s Do It Wrong late at night. While there’s a riot going on you will feel capable of bobbing through like a cork. In 1971, when the nation appeared to be on the brink of violently coming apart, Sly and the Family Stone released There’s a Riot Goin’ On, an album of dark, brooding energy. Now, under similar circumstances, Yo La Tengo have issued a record with the same name but with a different force, an album that proposes an alternative to anger and despair. Their first proper full-length since 2013’s Fade, There’s a Riot Goin’ On is an expression of freedom and sanity and emotional expansion, a declaration of common humanity as liberating as it is soft-spoken.


Which is good! A few storming guitar squalls from Painful and Electr-O-Puraaside, Yo La Tengo has never been particularly aggressive, and certainly no one expects the mild-mannered Ira Kaplan or Georgia Hubley to start murmuring calls to march in the streets. Besides, we could all use some nice, chill music to draw the blinds and escape into right now. That said, the title and attendant marketing have forced a context of historical importance onto Riot that it can’t quite live up to; anyone expecting a bold, era-defining statement here will ultimately be let down by its softly spoken rumination on fear, hurt, and uncertainty, which could be applied equally to dramas political or romantic. Still, as with its namesake, the unease is there, palpable in the smaller sonic spaces, sensed more than shouted. We could all use more nuance these days, too.

The album’s impressive layering can be attributed to the band piecing Riot together entirely in the studio, rather than composing and rehearsing songs beforehand—cobbling it together from scraps of leftover recordings and adding parts one at a time, sometimes months in between. It’s similar to how the group has worked on film music, Kaplan has said, and indeed, there’s a real “imaginary soundtrack” feel to much of Riot, with long stretches of pure tone interspersed between the pop songs. (In “Shortwave,” a beat-less, glassily pretty drone that sits somewhere between Julianna Barwick and Stars Of The Lid, it even yields arguably Yo La Tengo’s first purely ambient track.) There’s also plenty of evidence it was mostly written on a computer: Shambling, snapped-to-grid drum loops, watery fluctuations, choral swells, field sound samples, and other digital tricks abound. Songs don’t end so much as dissolve, lingering just a hair longer than expected, which gives the whole thing a slightly haunted feel. Still, it hangs together organically, united by its sustained, melancholically dreamy mood.

Opener “You Are Here” begins with nearly six minutes of languorous, EBowed guitar hums over a motorik chug of sleigh bells, as immersive as slipping into a bubble bath. It fades into the breezy, ’60s-pop bounce of “Shades Of Blue,” where Hubley sings with peppy resilience about “painting my room to reflect my moods,” before Kaplan responds with “She May, She Might,” a melancholy sigh outside her window delivered over a psychedelic swirl of gently strummed guitars and back-masked flutters. On “For You Too,” Kaplan takes his shy-kid act a bolder step forward while backed by an insistent fuzz drone, shrugging that he’s “just some guy / With too much pride,” but suggesting he could still rise to the occasion: “Whenever there’s hurt and / When things are uncertain / Maybe I could be that guy / I’d like to try.” The theme of taking comfort in each other in times of doubt is one that Riot returns to frequently: In “Above The Sound,” a jumble of jazz bass and distant, off-kilter drum fills are washed over by hazes of slowly shifting feedback tones, while Kaplan and Hubley huskily harmonize, “What if we bear it with a grin / To take it on the chin.” Later, the ghostly “shoo-wop shoo-wop” refrain and odd liquid squelches of “Forever” create a similarly unnerving backdrop for Kaplan to croon, “Laugh away the bad times / Lie about what’s to come / The less said, the better / Let’s drink until we’re dumb.” And closer “Here You Are” concludes, “Most days, we circumvent / Tune out the world / Except our friends.” These songs project a defeatist, November 9 kind of sentiment that makes the whole Sly Stone nod a bit more plausible—and there’s also “Out Of The Pool,” whose blurry, refracted funk guitars and compressed feedback squalls beneath Kaplan’s surrealist, spoken-word mutters definitely feel like a distant spiritual cousin.

Admittedly, all that muted resignation gets a bit enervating at times. Kaplan and Hubley’s kitschy lounge-pop duet on “Let’s Do It Wrong”; the game-show bossa nova of “Esportes Casual”; and even the catchy, yet featherweight “Shades Of Blue” all toe the line between comfort music and elevator Muzak, their innocuousness only amplified by the conceit that this album is supposedly saying something. And it slouches into banality with a listless cover of Greenwich folkie Michael Hurley on “Polynesia #1,” which here resembles the island-vacation daydream of some tranquilized ’50s housewife—a fantasy of slipping away to paradise “at my leisure” that reads as less “expression of freedom” than self-indulgence. It’s in these moments that even the album’s quasi-political ambitions seem far-fetched; there’s a difference between offering bliss and blissful ignorance, after all.

But those are minor quibbles, ultimately. For the most part, There’s A Riot Going On succeeds in finding strength in the stillness. Two of its best tracks are also its quietest, with both “Ashes” and the stunning “What Chance Have I Got” surrounding Hubley with little more than minimal drum patterns and sparse atmospheres, her tender voice a calming, reassuring guide—in 2018, or another 30 years from now. As always, Yo La Tengo puts its faith in the power of music to pull us out of whatever hell we might be going through, here by warmly pulling us in.

Take or leave my opinion. If being a fan means the demonstration of passion and the willingness to forgive mistakes or mere competence, then I’m not one. But I love these songs.

  • Ira Kaplan – lead vocals, guitar, keyboard (1984–present)
  • Georgia Hubley – drums, lead and backing vocals, percussion, keyboard (1984–present)
  • James McNew – bass, guitar, percussion, keyboard, lead and backing vocals (1992–present)

The band named its latest record There’s a Riot Going On, ruefully echoing Sly & The Family Stone’s 1971 LP title. But instead of facing the tribulations of our times with vitriol and barricade-storming, Yo La Tengo offers an aural panacea for the soul, a place where those wearied and wounded by the struggles of the day can soak up some warmth, placidity, and humanity. And “For You Too” takes a hands-on approach to the healing.

With fat, fuzzy bass, gently jangling guitar arpeggios, and an amiably loping beat, Ira Kaplan’s friendly, reverb-soaked murmur purposefully but unassumingly delivers a message of proactive, one-to-one compassion. He allows from the start that his communiqué isn’t coming from a place of perfection—”I’m just some guy, barely polite,” he begins, eventually adding “too much pride” and “way too snide” to his tally of personal flaws.

But after a few guitar flurries, Kaplan’s aqueous tones start to rise slightly as he avows his altruistic intentions. Emotional protection is what he’s putting forward, “whenever there’s hurt and when things are uncertain.” And while that would certainly sound like a welcome offer at any time, Kaplan and company know full well that things are more uncertain in their homeland than ever these days. So his words are likely to fall upon ears that need them now more than ever.

From the forthcoming album, ‘There’s a Riot Going On.’ Out March 16th on Matador Records