We asked Yo La Tengo's James McNew to guide us through the albums have shaped his life the most, from El-P's razor sharp Fantastic Damage, all the way through to the menacing Histoire de Melody Nelson by Serge Gainsbourg. Five albums you should all get to know a bit better.

Yo La Tengo's new album Stuff Like That There - which features re-recorded versions of their older material, plus covers of the Cure, Hank Williams, the Parliaments, Sun Ra and more - is available via Matador on August 28th. Pre-order it over here.


Pick three albums that have influenced your career the most

Flipper, Album (Subterranean 1982) - a lot of my friends when I was in high-school stopped talking to me once I began listening to this album. I guess I see their point, but I have no regrets. Gleefully negative and raw and a must-have for any young person; totally holds up now that I'm old.


El-P, Fantastic Damage (Definitive Jux 2002) - one of the most deeply psychedelic records of the 2000s. The words are funny and sad and razor sharp, the astonishing production way ahead of its time. There was nothing like it and there still kinda isn't.


Serge Gainsbourg, Histoire de Melody Nelson (Philips 1971) - a fever dream of an album, the sound of breath in a hot, pitch dark room. Menacing, luminous stripped-down jams, and the greatest bass tone of all time. Instantly creates its own universe, which I suppose all three of these albums do.



One album that you feel is the most underrated

Flesh Eaters, Forever Came Today (Slash 1982) - a surging, snarling punk juggernaut. Fantastic songs, monstrous guitars, and Chris D howling hard-boiled tales of... love? My favorite of their LPs; there should be a statue of them in a park somewhere.



One new album you think everyone should own

Minutemen, Double Nickels on The Dime (SST 1984) - at the height of their powers, their third album was a 45-song double LP exploding with energy and genius. The music, urgent and true, and uniquely physical, pops like popcorn; the lyrics are Actual Poetry. A legitimate masterpiece that will change your life forever like it did mine.