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In 2006, when I was sixteen, I had a notion that Yo La Tengo were something important. Listening to I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass, I was overcome by a litany of styles that felt scatterbrained only at the point of first listen. Later, it was clear to me that Yo La Tengo all but defined what an indie rock band is. They stayed under the radar and still made a career out of performing rock music. But, they somehow never succumbed to cultural commodification despite retaining a classically cool mystique. As I continued to explore their early albums, I picked out the moments that meant the most to me, and have since settled on the washes of 'Deeper Into Movies' and 'We're An American Band' as my favorites.

YLT have, apparently, been cataloguing their discography just as carefully as me. They did it back in 1990 on Fakebook, and Stuff Like That There serves as an anniversary of that collection. They've once again pieced together a random smattering of their own songs reworked, covers of side projects and errata, and other covers of mildly to hugely famous pop tunes. A true retrospective, SLTT is impossible to pin down without opening up a wormhole of Wikipedia pages and YLT information to figure out exactly where all these new songs gestated - a process that's intensely enjoyable for any music head. Ira, Georgia, and James have been inspired by everything from Lovin' Spoonful deep cuts to the ubiquity of 'Friday I'm In Love' - a nod to Bob Dylan as well as The Cure since Bob did something eerily similar on 1970's Self-Portrait when he laid out an obtuse, but nonetheless great cover of 'The Boxer'. Like that album, each song here, whatever the inspiration or arrangement, is undeniably good.

Although it's originally a Great Plains song, 'Before We Stopped to Think' best sums up this albums attitude. Kaplan uses his whispery, throaty voice to break down the songwriting process: "We would write our songs soft/And we tried to make them tough/And we stopped to catch our breath/And we stopped fearing our death/That's when we died." The track provides insight into what it takes to be the band they are, forgetting about what they think an album should sound like, and simply letting it be whatever comes out. On this outing, Kaplan wields his acoustic, Georgia her brushes, James his upright bass, and Yo La expat Dave Schramm his textural, slide and sustain heavy electric guitar wisps. There's a confidence in these steadfast arrangements, and YLT have certainly earned the right to have fun like this considering how in touch with their process they are on 'Before We Stopped'. It's often frustrating how comfortable they are with the familiar arrangement showcased on nearly every track here. But, they've done this before to great effect on 2000's And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, and wistfully looking back is the element of SLTT with the most staying power.

Nothing is also the ideal mirror with which to reflect upon some of these songs. Many are love songs that playfully tap into the marriage of Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan like the gorgeous 'Our Way To Fall' did on that album. On Parliaments cover 'I Can Feel The Ice Melting', love melts a previously cold demeanor amidst Hubley's calmest vocal delivery. Following that is an Antietam track, 'Naples', where love has turned into codependence: "It's a simple need/I need you close to me."

But it's after all these simple songs where they revisit 'Deeper Into Movies' and I remember the deeply rooted feelings that were unearthed the first time I listened to the original version. Though I miss the electric guitars, it's ideal to have this as the penultimate track. It still hits just as hard when Kaplan, alone, sings "It blows my mind" after the blissful group vocals of the verses as it did in 1997. The feeling is similar as they take the persistent chord progression out "like a finger in the sky." I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One was always my favorite Yo La Tengo record. Other moments I love are revisited on the rework of Popular Songs cut 'All Your Secrets'. Hubley's classic eighth-note ride cymbal pattern pushes us forward, and I didn't realize until hearing this version just how great the lyrics are to this thing: "And if there's things that I'm afraid to know/Should have learned them long ago."

Funnily enough, there isn't much to learn about Yo La Tengo on SLTT as much as there is to remember. Though I'm beating a dead horse with this reflective motif, it stands out so starkly when listening to this album; and sadly there's not much diversity in the comfortable landscapes that these songs fit into. The record is more fun to talk and think about as opposed to listen to, making it a great companion for morning coffee or an afternoon nap. Lambchop's Kurt Wagner summed it up beautifully in his introduction/summary of the album: "Yo La Tengo choose sources that make you enriched if not empowered." Indeed, I feel empowered as a listener while exploring SLTT's origins. In the rooms where the album was recorded, there are spirits of the songs and artists they covered, as well as spirits of each iteration of this band's lengthy and inspiring career. These give rise to feelings of thankfulness and an illumination of the past that's so fondly fussed over. Although Stuff Like That There drags a bit, it's lovely to think that Yo La Tengo parse through their history as closely as their biggest fans do. Listening to it conjures a timeline of the band as well as the musical niche I've been working to be a part of in my life, beginning when Fakebook did 25 years ago.

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