Posts Tagged ‘Matador Records’

We’re not entirely sure what we are seeing in Perfume Genius’ “Describe” but we’re digging it nonetheless. Set on a dusty ranch, the music video shows the life of a cult-like group of people who eat, dance, and apparently sleep on the floor together. The video gives off major Midsommar and Wild Wild Country vibes (albeit with a much happier ending). Mike Hadreas has stated that the song is about being in a dark place and needing someone to describe what goodness feels like, which explains the overall introspective feel to the music video.  

Mid-lockdown, here was my reminder that the world out there is vast and oppressive, beautiful and foul, almost psychedelically diverse and yet the very definition of mundane; sometimes fun, sometimes shit, always confusing. Perfume Genius has a way of capturing what feels like the whole human experience in a single album – heck, even a single song. Gone are the minimalist confessionals that made his name. On ‘Set My Heart on Fire Immediately’, grand, melodramatic laments on earthly fragility and the passage of time rub up against snatched reminiscences of hook-ups. It’s a sprawling, detailed masterpiece, shot through with typical Mike Hadreas yearning, that embodies just how rich and radiant and fucked up life can be.

Like an oil puddle rainbow, it shimmers. He shimmies. Hope seems to be a waking dream. It simmers. Elongates. Reverberates. You’re cradled by sumptuous arrangements, whilst sadness slow dances in the shadows. There are glimmers that you can’t quite discern. Björk? Eno’s ambient chambers? Soap&Skin? Zola Jesus? John Grant’s molten disco? There’s a sensation of the weight of the world being lifted and, just for a moment, the pins and needles leave you frozen. It’s murmurations of doves scattering to the four corners, bright white wings flapping gracefully against an ominous sky. It’s some kind of wonderful.

Listen, if you haven’t depression-fucked the love of your life to “Describe,” I’m extremely sorry. This album lights up every individual nerve ending, sometimes all at once. 
From Perfume Genius’ new album ‘Set My Heart On Fire Immediately” released on May 15th, 2020 on Matador Records.

To date Matador’s Revisionist History series has set its focus on the hallowed year of 1995 – surfacing critical releases by Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Guided by Voices, and Chavez.

Today, however, we whirl the dial on the in-house wayback machine and travel toward the future: the year 2000 and Mary Timony’s debut solo album, ‘Mountains’, which will be reissued on January 15th. Remastered by Bob Weston, Mountains comes back to us as a gold foil-embossed gatefold 2xLP and will include the previously unreleased original takes of “Return to Pirates,” “Poison Moon,” and “Killed by the Telephone,” which were delivered along with the original master tapes 20 years ago, but were omitted from the final album. The record is completed by a newly recorded orchestral version of “Valley of One Thousand Perfumes” produced by composer Joe Wong (Russian Doll, Midnight Gospel) and mixed by Dave Fridmann.

At the turn of the century, Timony (Ex Hex, Wild Flag, Hammered Hulls) was already a celebrated presence in American underground music – a fixture of D.C. and Boston rock ’n’ roll via her work in Autoclave and Helium respectively. By 1998, though, Helium was drawing to a close and Timony was feeling uncertain about the future. “I had never been good at the rock’ n’ roll business, and making a living from being in a band just didn’t seem like it was in the realm of possibility for me,” she writes. “I just knew I wanted to make another record because that was the part of being in a band that I liked the most.”

At the time of its original release, Timony called ‘Mountains’, “A Trip to the New Underworld.” “A bunch of hard stuff was happening in my life: family illnesses, people dying, people leaving, relationships ending. I fell into a deep depression,” she explains. “I tried new ways of making music: I tried writing songs without any filter at all, and I purposely didn’t think about what the music would sound like to anyone else. I was only interested in describing what was in my head.”
Recorded and mixed in Boston alongside Christina Files and Eric Masunaga and in Chicago with Bob Weston, Mountains found Timony dialing into territory that was barer and more confessional than her work in Helium. Stark arrangements were augmented with newly ornate instrumentation — piano, vibraphone, and viola — and the lyrics were tinted with slyly occult imagery.

“Listening back to Mountains now I am struck most by how raw it sounds,” says Timony. “I hear the depression and angst, but also I hear all of that darkness disappearing through the power of music and friendship—and turning into songs during those happy and productive months recording and hanging out in Christina’s loft in downtown Boston.”

Today, you can also watch Timony in the Brett Vapnek-directed short film, “Dream Machine” (1999).

Muzz have announced details of a new EP, ‘Covers’. The four-track set, which sees the trio of Paul Banks, Josh Kaufman and Matt Barrick reimagine songs by Arthur Russell, Bob Dylan, Mazzy Star and Tracy Chapman, will be released digitally on December 9th.

‘Covers’ is as much an illustration of the bands collective inspirations as it is a sonic testament to their expansive imagination and fluidity as a musical outfit, imbuing the singular classics with a sense of wonder and awe that come together to a short but powerfully holistic set.

Arthur Russell’s ‘Nobody Wants A Lonely Heart’ is deconstructed to its mesmerising foundations, with Banks‘ baritone gliding over Kaufman’s submerged piano and Barrick’s gentle shuffle. Bob Dylan’s ‘Girl From The North Country’ is recast in a cobweb of acoustic guitars, swooning slides and ghostly vocals that slow-burn to a mystical crescendo. Elsewhere, Banks’ invocation of Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade Into You’ is fraught with raw emotion, set to a backdrop of palpitating percussion and arching strings. Tracy Chapman’s ‘For You’ brings the set to a buoyant and moving close, punctuated by fluttering guitar runs, cinematic pads, and Banks’ soulful delivery.

“Nobody Wants a Lonely Heart” · Muzz under exclusive license to Matador Records

This morning we’re releasing the Jim-E Stack remix of Perfume Genius’ “Without You,” taken from the critically acclaimed album ‘Set My Heart On Fire Immediately’. Stack had previously collaborated with Perfume Genius and Empress Of on the single “When I’m With Him,” and also worked with artists including Bon Iver, Caroline Polachek, Haim and more. Stack said of the “Without You” remix, “to my ears a Perfume Genius album always embodies excellence, from the song-writing to the production to the mixing. Every word, note, and sound feels so purposeful while playing its role in each song and in the greater context of the album. I chose to remix ‘Without You,’ because something about it felt timeless and familiar but also grounded and confident. That gave me room to make a completely new instrumental around the vocal.” He went on to say, “even though Mike and I are friends and we’ve worked together in the past, I was admittedly intimidated by the task of remixing ‘Without You.’ Once I found a way to bring the song into my world, I started listening to the remix outside the studio and I knew I had done my thing. I just hoped Mike would want to listen to it too.

Perfume Genius’ new album ‘Set My Heart On Fire Immediately” is out now:

Mountains

To date Matador’s Revisionist History series has set its focus on the hallowed year of 1995 – surfacing critical releases by Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Guided by Voices, and Chavez.

Today, however, we whirl the dial on the in-house wayback machine and travel toward the future: the year 2000 and Mary Timony’s debut solo album, ‘Mountains‘, which will be reissued on January 15th. Remastered by Bob Weston, “Mountains” comes back to us as a gold foil-embossed gatefold double LP and will include the previously unreleased original takes of “Return to Pirates,” “Poison Moon,” and “Killed by the Telephone,” which were delivered along with the original master tapes 20 years ago, but were omitted from the final album. The record is completed by a newly recorded orchestral version of “Valley of One Thousand Perfumes” produced by composer Joe Wong (Russian Doll, Midnight Gospel) and mixed by Dave Fridmann.  

At the turn of the century, Timony (Ex Hex, Wild Flag, Hammered Hulls) was already a celebrated presence in American underground music ­­– a fixture of D.C. and Boston rock ’n’ roll via her work in Autoclave and Helium respectively. By 1998, though, Helium was drawing to a close and Timony was feeling uncertain about the future. “I had never been good at the rock’ n’ roll business, and making a living from being in a band just didn’t seem like it was in the realm of possibility for me,” she writes. “I just knew I wanted to make another record because that was the part of being in a band that I liked the most.” 

At the time of its original release, Timony called ‘Mountains’, “A Trip to the New Underworld.” “A bunch of hard stuff was happening in my life: family illnesses, people dying, people leaving, relationships ending. I fell into a deep depression,” she explains. “I tried new ways of making music: I tried writing songs without any filter at all, and I purposely didn’t think about what the music would sound like to anyone else. I was only interested in describing what was in my head.”

Recorded and mixed in Boston alongside Christina Files and Eric Masunaga and in Chicago with Bob Weston, Mountains found Timony dialing into territory that was barer and more confessional than her work in Helium. Stark arrangements were augmented with newly ornate instrumentation — piano, vibraphone, and viola — and the lyrics were tinted with slyly occult imagery.

“Listening back to Mountains now I am struck most by how raw it sounds,” says Timony. “I hear the depression and angst, but also I hear all of that darkness disappearing through the power of music and friendship—and turning into songs during those happy and productive months recording and hanging out in Christina’s loft in downtown Boston.”

Mountains” will be reissued on January 15th.

Mountains
No photo description available.

We’re very pleased to announce the new Gang of Four 77-81 Limited Edition Boxset, out on Matador Records on December 11th, available to preorder now here: gangoffour.ffm.to/boxset.ofp

The boxset features:- Entertainment! (Remastered) LP- Solid Gold (Remastered) LP- Exclusive Singles 12” LP- Exclusive ‘Live at American Indian Centre 1980’ Double LP- Exclusive Demo Cassette Tape of Outtakes, Rarities and Studio Demos- 2x New Badges- 100 Page full-colour Hardbound Book curated by Allen, Burnham and King.

“I stumbled upon a copy of Gang of Four’s Entertainment! accidentally and it went on to become one of the most influential records of my life as a producer, lyricist and fan of music in general. Their sparse, unorthodox, riff heavy guitars and nasty, funky, in-the-pocket rhythm section drew me in, but it was their questioning of the world that kept me listening as I grew. I consider them a seminal band, whose influence and effect permeates the music world in a deeper way than many realize. Thank you, Gang of Four, for existing.”

The box set contains “Entertainment!’ and ‘Solid Gold’ (both remastered from the original analogue tapes), an exclusive singles LP, and an exclusive double LP of the never officially released ‘Live at American Indian Center 1980’. Additionally, the package includes two new badges, a C90 cassette tape compiling 26 never-before-issued outtakes, rarities and studio demos from ‘Entertainment!’ and ‘Solid Gold’, and an epic 100-page, full-colour hardbound book.

The book details the history and legacy of the original Gang of Four with never before seen photos, contributions from surviving original band members, rare posters, ephemera, flyers, essays, artwork, liner notes and more. It also marks the first official publication of their lyrics.

Gang of Four was formed in Leeds in 1976 by bassist Dave Allen, drummer Hugo Burnham, guitarist Andy Gill, and singer Jon King. The band pioneered a style of music that inverted punk’s blunt and explosive energies — favouring tense rhythms, percussive guitars, and lyrics that traded in Marxist theory and situationism. They put every element of the traditional “rock band” format to question, from notions of harmony and rhythm to presentation and performance. This original line-up of the band released two monumental albums, ‘Entertainment!’ (1979) and ‘Solid Gold ‘(1981). A third, ‘Songs of the Free’ (1982), was recorded with bassist Sara Lee replacing Dave Allen. After ‘Songs Of The Free’, Burnham departed the band and Andy Gill and Jon King continued on to release Hard in 1983. After this release, the band broke up. In 2004, the original quartet reformed for tour dates and released ‘Return The Gift’ (2005).

Gill’s untimely death in February 2020 was cause for many to once again re-examine the group’s catalogue and the legacy of these early releases was widely cited. Not only did Gang of Four’s music speak to the generation of musicians, activists, writers, and visual artists that emerged in the group’s immediate wake, but the generation after that. And the generation after that, even.

In the last few years, their songs have continued to resonate with and been sampled by artists far afield including Run the Jewels (“The Ground Below”) and Frank Ocean (“Futura Free”). Now forty years since the original release of ‘Entertainment!’, Gang of Four’s legacy cannot be overstated.

Music, specifically pop music, is as much of a commodity as pork bellies. It’s bought, packaged, sold, traded and has as little to do with the Platonic triad of beauty, goodness and truth as, well, pork bellies. And it hasn’t just become this way. It’s been this way. From its inception to now, its value is what’s made it significant in the marketplace. But pressed against a wooden stage in New York at Hurrah’s in the late 1970s, what stepped out on stage had nothing to do with any kind of commercial calculus. That I could see.

See, in 1979, after a steady diet of The Ramones, the New York Dolls, Klaus Nomi, fer chrissakes, and on the strength of the name alone, a single, the press and the locale, the Gang of Four was a must see. But wrapped in the earlier vaudevillian aspect of punk rock, new wave, no wave, and a sort of well-meaning but very extant schtick, expectations were in keeping with what had already been seen. But what had been seen would in no way prepare you for what you were about to see.

Four Brits, no leather jackets, no make-up, and outside of an opening song with about two minutes of unremitting feedback, no schtick.

“We all grew up around vaudeville. It was part of the zeitgeist,” said drummer Hugo Burnham, from outside of Boston where he toils in academia and presently makes his home. But Gang of Four? “It was anti-schtick. And it was somewhat deliberate because we were serious about what we were doing but we weren’t dour. We didn’t go as far as the shoegazing thing.”

Which is almost right. Gone was the clever art school quirk of Talking Heads or the mordant rumble of a Joy Division, musicians framing what we were understanding about new music at the time. Replaced instead with something that was equal parts both cool and hot, and when they tore into their set that night it was with a life-changing brio. No “Hello Cleveland!” No foot on the front wedge rock god posturing, just songs and songs played like those that were playing them meant it. It, here, being coruscating takes on very precisely what it was we were doing while we were doing it. Again: not by accident. But very specifically, deliberately.

“We sat in pubs and talked about it,” Burnham said. Right down to things like, “No fucking feet on the monitors.”

What Burnham fails to mention and this is an amusing Rashomonesque feature of chatting with the three members still living – Burnham, singer/lyricist Jon King, and bassist Dave Allen – is that the no-feet-on-the-monitors “chat” didn’t happen in a pub. King, in a call from London, offers an alternate scenario. “It happened backstage after a show in what used to be Yugoslavia,” King laughs. “And it involved a fistfight.” So Gill and Allen settled things the old-fashioned way and while it’s unknown who won, at the Hurrah’s show there were no feet on monitors.

But first a little historical political perspective and a sense of the tableau upon which whatever Gang of Four was, was created. In the late 1970s in the U.K., there was 14 percent inflation, 18 percent in 1980, one in five adult males were out of work, interest rates were 14 percent, and there was massive industrial unrest. “In ’78 and ’79 it was called the Winter of Discontent,” King said of the hellscape that England had been even before Thatcher dug in. “There were piles of garbage four meters high in the street, people weren’t going to be buried because there was a strike of mortuary workers and grave diggers, there were dozens of IRA terror attacks in mainland UK, there were plotters looking to pull a coup d’etat, plus Russian SCUD missiles in eastern Europe and Americans sending Pershing missiles to NATO, so threats of nuclear attack. Songs like ‘In the Ditch’ on Solid Gold? That was the context we were working with.”

And given that context, a steadfast mark of Gang of Four’s genius that they didn’t zig into what was a popular pose at the time (and still really) and try to pull off the working class hero crap that had smart people dumbing down in the name of some sort of shopworn idea of what was authentic. That is, the Gang of Four were driven and obsessed with what middle class art school students should be obsessed with: making great music and art in and of the times they are living, fully realizing that you can’t fake authenticity. “Look, in looking back I have decided I really like this sort of troublesome 21-year-old me who wrote these totally un-commercial songs,” said King. But the charm, at least for the creator, is that “there’s nothing in it that is an attempt to pander to people. And it may sound kind of stupid but I kind of thought of us as like a blues band.”

“So I tried to avoid cliché, but it’s quite difficult trying to not write about things that everyone else was writing about,” King explains.” But there’s a reason hip-hop is the biggest genre in the world now and that’s because it’s got some authenticity about it; it talks about things that are actually happening. The world is a shit show now. To not write about it is a remarkable evasion of responsibility.”

Something that wasn’t missed in 1979 New York either with crime at an all-time high and the city collapsing financially. So mid-set when King dragged a metal crate on stage – “we later switched to a microwave,” Burnham said – and started blasting it with a drum stick it was both the sound of the city and the times all at once.

Adding percussive elements in and from trash, well in advance of Einsturzende Neubaten and even Stan Ridgway from Wall of Voodoo who Burnham initially thought they had lifted it from (“No,” corrects King), this was a perfect sweat-drenched statement of intent: Gang of Four absolutely were not fucking around.

And it was perhaps this quality specifically that drew the heavy. “We were political with a small P,” said bassist Dave Allen who followed a post-Gang of Four career with music tech gigs at both Apple and Intel, which is how he ended up in Portland. “But we were fighting Nazis. The fascists that came to the shows. They would jump onstage when we were playing in London, skinheads, and they had knives.” Allen, in general soft spoken, neither laughs nor smiles in the retelling. “The security guards would all run away. Having a big heavy bass in this instance helped quite a bit.”

But before reforming in 2005, Allen was the first to leave Gang of Four, in 1981, and his leaving was part of that whole not fucking around piece and almost perfectly Gang of Four-ish. “EMI were always pushing us. They wanted us to make ‘hits’. Be on the radio. Top of the Pops,” Allen sighs. “That’s not what we do. We don’t make pop songs. The 2005 reunion only lasted a few years, but Andy Gill continued with replacement musicians and died right in the midst of touring with them. He left giant shoes to fill. But even considering trying to fill them? A straight-up damn the torpedoes move. To which they are well matched. “When you try to audition a guitar player they just can’t do it,” Allen winds up. “They come in blasting thinking it is punk, but we were post-punk. It was us and Wire…”

On December 11th, Matador will release GANG OF FOUR: ’77-81”, a stunning, limited edition box set gathering Gang of Four’s influential early work.

Julien Baker has announced her third full length album titled “Little Oblivions”, which is set for a February 26th 2021. Released via Matador Records. In addition to the album announcement, Baker also shared the first single off the new record, titled “Faith Healer” coupled with a music video directed by Daniel Henry.

In Baker’s own words: Put most simply, I think that “Faith Healer” is a song about vices, both the obvious and the more insidious ways that they show up in the human experience. I started writing this song two years ago and it began as a very literal examination of addiction. For awhile, I only had the first verse, which is just a really candid confrontation of the cognitive dissonance a person who struggles with substance abuse can feel — the overwhelming evidence that this substance is harming you, and the counterintuitive but very real craving for the relief it provides. When I revisited the song I started thinking about the parallels between the escapism of substance abuse and the other various means of escapism that had occupied a similar, if less easily identifiable, space in my psyche.

There are so many channels and behaviours that we use to placate discomfort unhealthily which exist outside the formal definition of addiction. I (and so many other people) are willing to believe whomever — a political pundit, a preacher, a drug dealer, an energy healer — when they promise healing, and how that willingness, however genuine, might actually impede healing. ‘Little Oblivions’ is the third studio album by Julien Baker. Recorded in Memphis, TN, the record weaves together unflinching autobiography with assimilated experience and hard-won observations from the past few years, taking Baker’s capacity for storytelling to new heights. It also marks a sonic shift, with the songwriter’s intimate piano and guitar arrangements newly enriched by bass, drums, keyboards, banjo, and mandolin with nearly all of the instruments performed by Baker.”

Releases February 26th, 2021

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.

Speed, Sound, Lonely KV (ep)

Acoustic troubadour Kurt Vile has announced a new EP called “Speed, Sound, Lonely KV”, set for release on October 2nd via Matador Records As a preview, Vile has shared a tender duet of John Prine’s single “How Lucky” featuring none other than the late Prine himself — a recording that Vile, a long time fan, is calling “the single most special musical moment in my life.”

“The truth is John was my hero for a long time when he came into The Butcher Shoppe to recut one of his deepest classics with me. And, man, I was floating and flying and I couldn’t hear anything he told me while he was there till after he was gone for the night,” said Vile in a statement. “A couple nights later we were playing ‘How Lucky’ together again; this time onstage at the Grand Ole Opry on New Year’s Eve at the turn of 2020. Nothing like seeing John and his band of musical brothers and family and friends playing into the new decade in front of an adoring audience on that stage in Nashville, TN… and, yup, that’s just how lucky we all got that night.”

Kurt Vile’s ‘Speed, Sound, Lonely kv (ep)’ was recorded and mixed in sporadic sessions that spanned four years at the butcher shoppe studio in nashville, tn. It includes five songs —covers of John Prine and “Cowboy” Jack Clement as well as two originals —and was recorded alongside a cast of local heavies like Bobby Wood, Dave Roe, and Kenny Malone with Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) and Matt Sweeney (Chavez, Superwolf) tossed into the mix as well.

Most importantly, it features what KV has called “Probably the single most special musical moment in my life” –a duet with the late John Prine on the songwriter’s well-loved tune, “How Lucky.” Vile and Prine take different verses at first, but join forces at the end, with their vocals complementing each other quite nicely.

The truth is John was my hero for a long time when he came into the butcher shoppe to recut one of his deepest classics with me. and, man, i was floating and flying and i couldn’t hear anything he told me while he was there till after he was gone for the night,” notes Vile in a personal statement that accompanies the record. “a couple nights later we were playing ‘how lucky’ together again; this time onstage at the grand ole opry on new year’s eve at the turn of 2020. nothing like seeing John and his band of musical brothers and family and friends playing into the new decade in front of an adoring audience on that stage.

Speed, Sound, Lonely KV spans five songs in total, including the aforementioned track as well as a cover of Prine’s hit “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness”, a spin on Jack Clement’s single “Gone Girl”, and two original numbers by Vile called “Dandelions” and “Pearls”. The EP was recorded and mixed at Nashville studio The Butcher Shoppe over the course of four years.

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
Bleeding
Smile a Little Smile for Me

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