Nineties indie rock was the sound of '80s hardcore kids growing up. And for many get-in-the-van vets, it was a transition that necessitated a clean-slate reboot, whether it was Lou Barlow channeling Dinosaur Jr. ’s roar into Sebadoh’s trembling whispers, Jon Spencer reshaping Pussy Galore’s skronk into the Blues Explosion’s funk, or Davids Yow and Sims harnessing Scratch Acid’s strangulated squeals into the Jesus Lizard’s militaristic might.
There’s little doubting that, when they look back at the music of the Nineties in years to come, indie rock will dominate discussions. There’s also a good chance that one particularly noteworthy group from Hoboken, New Jersey will get largely overlooked, because they usually do. Never a genuine mainstream proposition, despite an arsenal of highly accessible tunes, Yo La Tengo have been plying their trade now for 30 years, combining wild psychedelic rambling with pop hooks and gentle lullaby-like ambience.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. These days Yo La Tengo are so often described as 'stalwarts' that it's difficult to imagine them starting out. It's also hard to believe that this is the first album of theirs to be given the deluxe treatment; there can surely be fewer bands more deserving of some retrospective praise. This year sees the 30th anniversary of the Yo La Tengo's formation; but 1993's Painful, their first for a major label (Matador, with whom they have remained for over twenty years) seems to be the point at which it all came together, where they began carving out a signature sound - as Ira Kaplan says: "I think this group really started when we made Painful...
Though Yo La Tengo had been active as a band for almost a decade, their 1993 album, Painful, represented a huge step forward for the group. It marked the first appearance of fresh talent James McNew alongside original members Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, and the first time the group worked with producer Roger Moutenot, who’s since helmed each of their efforts. To celebrate Yo La Tengo’s 30th birthday, Painful is reissued with an extra disc of demos, a reissue of its contemporary 7”, Shaker, accompanying paraphernalia (including band newspaper and sticker, naturally) and a download of an additional 15 tracks.
Anniversaries in the music industry attract both celebrations and cynics alike. The outspoken Flying Bird’s frontman Noel Gallagher has again expressed his disregard for the upcoming hype surrounding 20 years of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory, stating “You put a calendar up there and you could probably wring an anniversary out of any single day of the year”. And maybe’s he’s right to ignore the arbitrary marking of time passed, but when a record renowned as a modest cult-classic gets the opportunity for new appreciation and merit, then perhaps, the regalia seems just.