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I Am Not Afraid of You & I Will Beat Your Ass

4.2 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 12, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This bold, eclectic, 80-minute album is the pinnacle of the band's twenty-year career. From eleven-minute guitar jams to gorgeous ballads to winsome horn-drenched pop songs, this album is all over the map, in a very good way. Features the talents of longtime Nashville producer Roger Moutenot, violinist Dave Mansfield of Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review, and the jacket artistry of Gary Panter (Raw, Jimbo).

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It's no surprise that a group named after something said during a baseball game would title an album after something said during a basketball match. It is a bit of a surprise that this band remains so incredibly good, and capable of surprising even longtime listeners. This one's so diverse and such a mixture of different styles, it's reminiscent of the group's all-request on-air shows they play annually to support New Jersey-based radio station WFMU. Book-ended by two long, droney tunes, you've got garage-rock rave-ups, country-pop, horn-driven R&B, little gorgeous atmospheric songs, some brilliant falsetto singing, and... this list could go on and on. Who else would think to pair conga-style percussion to a Suicide-esque synth drone? Or even to work with longtime Dylan collaborator and strings arranger and violinist David Mansfield and have genius illustrator Gary Panter do the artwork at the same time? It's the little things that matter, especially when you mastered the big ones twenty-plus years ago. --Mike McGonigal
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 12, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Matador Records
  • ASIN: B000GUK0HM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,258 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 12, 2006
Format: Audio CD
With a title like "I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass," it seems like an understatement to say that veteran indie-rock band Yo La Tengo are feeling confident.

And Yo La Tengo stick to what works after twenty years of indie-rocking, with a Velvet Underground vibe, solid pop tunes, noisy rockers and some wildly engaging jazzy experimentals. They know what they do well, and they do it as well as ever in their tenth album.

They take a bit of a risk in the opening number, "Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind," a sprawling eleven-minute track that noodles through jazzy drums and fuzzy guitars. It sounds like the Velvet Underground having a lazy jam session, until the point where the cycling guitars erupt into a giant riff snarl.

The experimentation diddles around through the rest of the album, but never so strongly as it does in "Pass the Hatchet." They dabble in various other kinds of pop music, sprinkled with country, blippy electropop, retro-sixties, freestyle jazz and sweeping, dreamier numbers, like the ones from their last original album.

The highlight is "Beanbag Chair," which is one of those instantly lovable pop songs -- jaunty piano, blasts of horn, mischievous lyrics, and daydreaming vocals. If you ever heard Yo La Tengo on the radio, this would be their big, big single.

Yo La Tengo have diddled around with all kinds of sounds for the past two decades, usually with lots of success. Just so long as they don't try freestyle harmonica or classical bagpipes, there's no reason to think that they won't continue to succeed at their experimentation.
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Format: Audio CD
Before I talk about how good this album is, I want to get my major gripe out of the way. This album is too long. 15 tracks, 77 minutes long, and it demonstrates that it is very hard, if not impossible, for a record that length to maintain any cohesion.

On the other hand, if you want cohesion, I don't think Yo La Tengo is your sort of band. After all, they once released a 40-somethin' minute "single" of covers of Sun Ra's "Nuclear War." This album is similarly eclectic. The opening track rocks out with heavy guitars over a 1-bar bass riff for fully ten minutes and it is brilliant. Following up is the piano-and-sax indie track Beanbag Chair, then the gentle "I Feel Like Going Home," then the romping "Mr. Tough" and its ridiculous indie-disco lyrics. The first part of the album builds up to "Daphnia," which is a gorgeous instrumental drifter that you should listen to right before going to sleep at 1am or later to get the proper effect.

And the album could well have ended right there. There's nothing wrong with the six tracks that follow, they're quite nice, I'm sure I'll listen to them more fully later and appreciate them better. There are just too many of them for it to be as an effective album as it would have with a shorter running length.

The ultimate point, however, is that this is quality music. Go get it.
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Format: Audio CD
Hoboken NJ trio Yo La Tengo have delivered a gift to those who have considered the band to be one of the great under appreciated bands of recent times. I AM NOT AFRAID... is both a glance back at all the things that have made this band great, as well as a step forward.

The first track (PASS THE HATCHET, I THINK I'M GOOKIND) loudly announces that the band is revisiting past triumphs circa ELECTRA PURA or PAINFUL with blasts of feedback squalls over a lopsided beat that rumbles on for a blissful 10+ minutes. They then downshift into a 60's pop pastiche of BEANBAG CHAIR. By this point, fans will have a satisfied grin on their faces. The rest of the ways is an eclectic tour of the bands strengths, both old and new. Outside of the over 8 minute DAPHNIA, there is not a misstep on board. Actually, DAPHNIA is an interesting ambient exercise, but is about 5 minutes too long FOR MY EARS, and slows the momentum of the album. Newer ingredients, such as well integrated horns, bongos, haunting violin, more prominent piano and falsetto vocals push the Yo La palette forward, keeping this from being a mere exercise in revisiting past glories.

Overall, this stands as one of the best albums this band has released, standing shoulder to shoulder with 1997's I CAN HEAR THE HEART BEATING AS ONE. For Yo La Tengo fans, it does not get much better than this!
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Format: Audio CD
This album is now one of my favorite albums. The musical style of Yo La Tengo is present in each song even though each song is very different from the last. In fact I am hard pressed to classify this band as just one musical type because of the many styles of music they utilize in the creation of this album. Overall a very well thought out and cleverly executed album. A definite must have for every music lover.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
From the first song that constant beat of the long song is what I like. Some may not like the fact that they are like a roller coaster ride. Jammin out hitting the music hard then soft. To me it's just perfect. Very diverse. It's almost like the band plays constant tug of war with which direction they want to go. I hope they keep going all directions.
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