Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie RockBook | Jesse Jarnow By Liam Carroll
Indie rock's history through the eyes of Hoboken's finest.
Yo La Tengo are a band for completists. Hoboken's finest indie rockers have been in existence for nearly 30 years, including over 20 with their current lineup of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew. They've released 15 full length albums, 14 EPs, and developed a truly mind-blowing repertoire of covers deeper than any professional wedding band. It's a lot to take on, but music journalist Jesse Jarnow does an admirable job with the unwieldy amount of history at hand here.
Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock is notable for how it takes us inside the personal lives of Kaplan, Hubley, and McNew to a heretofore unheard of degree (these guys aren't exactly known for being forthcoming, just ask the poor New York Times journalist who once dared to question Kaplan and Hubley on the possibility of their ever having children together), and for the sort of insider baseball-type facts from studio sessions and life on tour that will undoubtedly be fascinating to both Yo La Tengo acolytes and casual fans. Did you know the band basically had as many bass players as Spinal Tap had drummers?
Where Jarnow sometimes falls flat is in his efforts to fit the story of Yo La Tengo in with the story of indie rock in general. The idea of the band being these sort of Zelig-like figures in the indie scene is interesting, but Jarnow throws so much information at the reader: people, venues, record labels, distribution houses, zines, etc. At times it becomes too much to sort out, and stops the book dead in its tracks. Overall, the occasional rough patch is worth putting up with in exchange for such a rarified glimpse into Yo La Tengo's little corner of the world.
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