If rock required a caretaker for its creative flame, it could do a lot worse than Yo La Tengo singer/guitarist Ira Kaplan. The one-time rock critic and his crew possess an en¬cyclopedic knowledge of the form (witness their annual covers-by-request pledge drive performances for Jerseys WFMU), and theyve developed such facility over their quarter-century of making music that they can pull off just about anything they like. Originally inspired by the yin-yang of Velvet Undergrounds personality (from the gen¬tle textured pop of Stephanie Says to the fuzz-drenched freak-out European Son), theyve outgrown their masters to mix beauty and brawn in a variety of shades that rivals Sherwin-Williams. From drummer Geor¬gia Hubleys tender Mo Tucker-ish croon, tiptoeing over dreamy organ-driven shim¬mer (Avalon or Someone Very Similar), to funky self-possessed two-steps (Periodi¬cally Double or Triple), flamenco-tinged acoustic paeans (When Its Dark), and chunky, garage-rock throwdowns (Nothing to Hide), their latest, Popular Songs, spans the spectrum before closing with a trio of epic nine- minute-plus tracks. Their loving attention to songcraft flirts and shimmies, whatever its stylistic guise, drawing the lis¬tener into their orbit like the Pied Piper, and producing several of the finest albums of the past 15 years.
Wed., Oct. 14, 7 p.m., 2009