Rhythm + Views


I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One

WE ALWAYS SUSPECTED they had it in them, and lately they'd been getting tantalizingly close, but who knew Yo La Tengo would really pull out of themselves a record as wholeheartedly terrific as their new album, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One? Thirteen years, eight albums, and a handful of EPs into their career as indie rock's low-key mainstays, the Hoboken, New Jersey, trio has arrived...and dammit, it's about time. It's as though simply by sticking around long enough, doing the same thing over and over while constantly refining and focusing, Yo La has evolved from being scattered record collecting eccentrics into true classicists of '90s indie rock. Blending elements of what makes Sonic Youth, Stereolab, Pavement and My Bloody Valentine great (not to mention the zillion bands they've covered), they've long had a clear voice but they've never sounded so comfortable using it. Willfully eclectic, husband-and-wife multi-instrumentalists Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley--with third member James McNew never sounding more permanent--have in the past tended to alternate between their conflicting instincts to be a pop-rock band and artsy noisemakers. On I Can Hear, the group doesn't have to choose between songs and sounds. There's noise leaking out everywhere, but it's always perfectly under control. Just in time for indie rock to catch up with Yo La Tengo, the band has caught up with itself.

--Roni Sarig


Early Singles

THESE WASHINGTON, D.C., go-go scene pioneers drop a colossal bomb of primo dance-funk brilliance on this collection of vintage, hard-to-find '80s sides. Go-go, best experienced in a live environment, is a throwback to percussive, relentless-groove funk that renounces structure, production and slickness for a loose feeling and audience participation. Picture an undisciplined James Brown fronting the P-funk rhythm section, and the unsophisticated albeit fluid propulsiveness intrinsic to Trouble Funk's sound is easily comprehended. On Early Singles, the songs maintain a seductive, low-tech groove supported by a mobilizing rumble and shuffle bottom, rolling percussion and frequent accompaniment by a couple of nonsensical tag lines. Trouble Funk reminds of a bygone era when rap and hip-hop were harmless, fun-filled parties, before the violence and foul-mouthed posturing of gangsta-rap took over.

--Ron Bally


Eight Arms To Hold You

THERE'S ALWAYS BEEN a corporate calculatedness about Veruca Salt, and nicking the original title of The Beatles' Help doesn't plead the quartet's case unless you're possessed of an underdeveloped sense of irony. Lead saltresses Nina and Louise do harmonize well together, albeit more like caterwauling twin Yoko Onos (what a shuddering thought) than John and Paul. And their approach to songcraft does have a certain classic veneer; it's just that "classic," to them, means studying Smashing Pumpkins and Live bootlegs for arrangements, not the late '60s/early '70s pioneers. True story: a local record store clerk spun this midday, and within 10 minutes no less than four fellow employees and three customers came up demanding a change in stereo selection. Lucky 7, eh? Clearly, Veruca Salt is not only an annoying band, it most assuredly does not rock.

--Fred Mills

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