THROWBACK THURS: Yo La Tengo – ‘I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One’


Hoboken trio Yo La Tengo have made it 30 years into their career, and what better way to celebrate than to listen to them a lot and catch them on their 30th Anniversary Tour. Husband-and-wife duo, Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, along with bassist James McNew, have crafted a fantastic catalog over the last three decades, making it damn hard to choose just one album to highlight for a throwback. Alas, after much deliberation, 1997’s LP I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One seizes the spotlight.

From the instruments used to the genres explored, this is an album that boasts exceptional variety — with shades of the likes of Sonic Youth and Pavement slammed jarringly against lounge and folk. Song to song, the album sounds directionless, but played together, each track acts as respite from one to the other.

Boasting one of the greatest consecutive four tracks of any record, the span from the frenetic “Sugarcube” through the greyed-out “Shadows” is a prime example of YLT deftly executing and balancing the album’s variety of styles. Sandwiching the dulcet “Damage” between the classic trappings of lo-fi and shoegaze in “Sugarcube” and “Deeper into Movies,” each genre feels like a refreshing change of pace. The album continues its trend of experimentation until it concludes, producing some of Yo La Tengo’s best work — among them the calming ache of “Green Arrow,” and “We’re an American Band,” which showcases Ira’s understated but superb guitar work.

What makes this compilation stand out isn’t that YLT can play ten genres on one album, but that its disparate nature evokes a complete picture when viewed as a whole. Listen to it a few times and you’ll be left with a distinct impression of the more salient moments of your formative years. I Can Hear the Heart is replete with all of the hopeful, painful ingredients: the anticipatory excitement that precedes an overdue reunion, the feeling of freedom you can only experience when you’re young, the kind of longing you can feel on a back porch in July, and the sense of accomplishment at having grown up a bit after having felt all those things.

Stream the album in full on Spotify, and check out their remaining tour dates below.

Upcoming YLT Tour Dates:

12.3 – Town Hall, New York
12.4 – Town Hall, New York
12.5 – 9:30 Club, Washington DC
12.6 – Trocadero Theater, Philadelphia

THROWBACK THURS: Aphex Twin – ‘Richard D. James Album’


Dust off your Roland cuz Richard’s back! With the release of Syro quickly approaching after 13 cold years on hiatus, there’s no better time to explore the hallmark Aphex Twin record Richard D. James Album than now. Released in 1996 from everyone’s favorite grimacing Cornwallite, RDJA serves as a clear middle ground between Aphex’s softer early-90s releases such as “On,” and his later propensity for the macabre, famously shown on “Come to Daddy.”

To this point, the album’s opener “4” has RDJ gorgeously building shimmering drum blasts, string harmonies, and warm melody lines—all of which are quickly abandoned in the following two tracks to explore more angular abrasive styles. The album is rife with this kind of interplay between facile, pretty electronics, and on-your-ass discord, making it initially accessible but ultimately challenging to fully appreciate. For its stylistic breadth, Richard D. James Album serves as a great entry point for newcomers to the genre.


Thankfully, easy points of ingress like “4” are interspersed throughout the album, be it in the playground ebullience of “Fingerbib,” the winding layers of “Carn Marth”’s labyrinthine outro, or the simmering warmth of the synths in “Yellow Calx.” RDJ’s knack for sharp drum trills remains ubiquitous throughout these songs and yet he cleverly finds a way to have them only further enhance the tracks’ lush melodies. That’s the thrust of this album’s charm; for every pretty hook, for every layer of strings he uses to brighten up a track, Aphex Twin gets you to swallow a bit more of his medicine. The parts of the album you immediately latch on to find a way to sell you on the rest — the sharp tempo changes, the frenetic bursts of synths and samples. Eventually, tracks like “Cornish Acid,” “Peek.824545201,” and “To Cure a Weakling Child,” while packed with Aphex Twin BrandTM strangeness, bloom into their own particular kind of loveliness, if for no other reason than the tight-as-hell programming and inventive sampling.

I find this record to be mostly sterile despite its ability to convey warmth and frigidity in equal measure. Whereas most of my favorite albums hold some sentimental value, Richard D. James Album makes the cut because it’s just really interesting and engrossing to listen to. The way its melodic simplicity belies a deeper complexity makes it rewarding to repeatedly absorb on a level rarely accomplished by electronic music.

The expected release date of Syro is September 22 (via Warp).

THROWBACK THURS: Broken Social Scene – ‘You Forgot It in People’


Along with myself and ketchup chips (yes), Broken Social Scene’s 2002 release You Forgot It in People is high in the running for the best thing to ever come out of Canada. The big band Arts & Crafts collective’s sophomore release unveiled their notoriously huge roster long before Arcade Fire or even The Polyphonic Spree got around to it, boasting talents like Leslie Feist and Emily Haines along with frontrunners Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning.

It’s a hard album to describe considering the sonic and tonal shifts the album manages to maneuver through. At once it recalls Yo La Tengo, Nick Drake, and a bit of Interpol but the diversity of these comparisons paint an incomplete picture of the album, and serve only to show the variety on offer. Make no mistake, the songs should be consumed together to be fully appreciated, lest the marked shift in styles and tone lose their weight.

A major inflection point occurs towards the end of the album’s first single “Cause=Time,” as the horn section’s languid outro veers the record from catchy rock into more solemn territory. The dour last half of this record, in stark contrast to its opening, presents what are arguably its strongest tracks – chief among them being the diptych of “Late Night Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries and Shampoo Suicide.”


Whereas the first half of the album sports spritely vocals and plucky bass lines, by the time BSS have made it through the eighth track they seem to be grappling with a weightier sense of both mood and rhythm. Between the plaintive vocals lacing “Shampoo Suicide,” the funereal pianos treading through “Lover’s Spit,” and the dirge-like melodies of “I’m Still Your Fag,” the record seems to somberly redden and drop away like the last weeks of summer.

This album came out when I was too young to understand it but I listened to it anyways. Eventually, I grew into and experienced what these songs were trying to express and found myself returning to it time and again. You Forgot It in People endures because in its honesty and richness, it has the unique ability to remain consistently evocative without subsisting on mere nostalgia.

Stream the album in its entirety on Spotify.