Yo La Tengo

Prisoners of Love

Twenty years ago, Ira Kaplan was an obsessive record collector writing about music when he decided that, in order to write with any authority on the subject, he needed to learn how to play himself. Now, with two decades of recorded output with Hoboken, N.J.’s Yo La Tengo, Kaplan’s authority is unquestionable. Kaplan, along with drummer/singer/wife Georgia Hubley and bassist James McNew, is considered a king in the world of indie rock, and the trio’s obsessive record-collector mentality has pushed them to cut their sound from a wide swath of influences—jangly pop, feedback jams, noisy rock, meditative electronica, obscure covers—and subsequently become an influential band in their own right. For this two-CD compilation, Matador culled the essentials from the band’s eight releases in its catalog as well as the five pre-Matador albums. No complaints about the selection here (my favorite, the breezy acoustic “Did I Tell You,” is in there), especially since the point seems to be to paint the big picture, and any number of choices could easily fit. In the end, it’s the perfect intro to Yo La Tengo and a great stand-alone release for the longtime fan. Also available with a third CD full of various re-dos, outtakes and live cuts.