Yo La Tengo Summer Sun

In the first few years of Yo La Tengo’s career, you couldn’t throw a rock (critic) without hitting a comparison to the Velvet Underground — to the point where the Hoboken trio appeared as the ’60s icons in the 1996 film I Shot Andy Warhol. It was owed mostly to the half-spoken vocals of Ira Kaplan and the minimalist drumming of Georgia Hubley, but also to their penchant for mixing introspective, drawn-out grooves with bursts of noise-rock freak-out. In the years since 1997’s I Heard the Heart Beating As One, however, the band has pursued the path less noisy, and their grooves have become increasingly mellow and introspective, to the point where you’d wonder if they’d ever even wake up after 2000 snoozer And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out. They haven’t abandoned their inner freak, it turns out — they just separate it out into different projects like the Nuclear War EP (a Sun Ra tribute) — while their new album, Summer Sun, maintains for the most part a mellow vibe. "Georgia Vs. Yo La Tengo” is a funky number that breaks up the somnambulant sounds in the middle of the new record — an indication that the band recognises their own sleepy tendencies and still wants to mess with you. Age has taken its toll though, and the band just can’t (or chooses not to) rock out like they used to. They’d rather spice up their early mornings with some subtle, layered explorations than rock’n’roll all night long. (Matador)