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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.

But they give their music some fresh new twists this time around -- they include silky string arrangements by David Mansfield, lots more piano, and more horns than they were using in "Summer Sun," courtesy of drummer Georgia Hubley. It feels peppy, fun and energized, like these guys were enjoying themselves just making every song.

Frontman Ira Kaplan shows his range in these songs, crooning "You can never sleep enough/and your alarm is going off/you wake up and you can't pretend/the dream is just a dream again," in a smooth voice. He's joined by bassist James McNew's falsetto in "Mr. Tough," which is a bit of a shock for awhile, but which works out all right.

Yo La Tengo are not afraid of you, but you don't need to be afraid of their latest effort either -- "We Are Not Afraid of you and We Will Beat Your Ass" is an all-around solid little album. Nice work!
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on 9 January 2007
This is my first taste of Yo La Tengo. After it kept appearing on my music recommendations list from Amazon I decided to take the plunge. I've been stung before this way (Mercury Rev - which I absolutely hated) but I thought why not, £6.97 is barely more than a packet of fags and it can't possibly be any worse than Mercury Rev. I have to say I'm impressed and I wish I'd listened to this band before.

What we have on "I'm Not Afraid Of You And I'll Beat Your Ass" is an extremely eclectic mix of music varying form soul to good rock numbers through varying degrees of jazziness and indieness. The album opens and closes with two long tracks, the excellent 'Pass the hatchet I think I'm longkind' and the equally as good 'Story of Yo La Tengo'. Both in their near-shoegazing ways remind me of the excellent and almost completely overlooked "Amusement Parks on Fire". Between these two thick slices lies a sandwich filling of infinite variety most of which works excellently.

Highlights of the filling include the slow-paced downer of "I feel like going home" sung by Ira Kaplan, the McCartneyesque "Black Flowers", the Byrds-like "The race is on again" and the Velvet Underground inspired "I should have known better". Then again virtually all of the tracks are good here. The one duff track in my opinion is Mr Tough. It just sounds...well to be honest this could be The Scissor Sisters as my daughter helpfully pointed out - and she was right. This is a really dislikeable track. But....saying that the quality of rest of the album more than makes up for this one blemish.

I've listened to this quite a lot now and I think its growing on me. I didn't include it in my top 10 albums of 2006 but I'd say it's touch and go - this could easily make it sometime.

Give this a go, especially if you haven't come across this band before. you'll be pleasantly surprised like me. Something for everyone.
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on 25 September 2006
If you already know YLT then it is really easy to review this album for you. Suffice to say it most closely resembles a Best Of.. collection. Not in quality (it has a few weak moments) but in style. 'I Am Not Afraid...' basically covers most of the musical variety of all their previous work, plus a few things that they've not got around to yet.

It starts and closes with extended art-rock wigouts, the opener chugging along in rather noodly fashion before really lashing along at the close. In between we get gentle piano-led beauty, fuzzy grunge, psychedelic blues, a long atmospheric instrumental and a big fat juicy collection of YLT having an extremely good time. You won't like every minute of it, and as on almost every YLT album sometimes you'll skip different bits but then that was always the point of YLT for me, if you are not in the mood then something different is just around the corner.

'I am Not Afraid..' is the sound of a band bursting with ideas and energy and perfectly happy to get the whole lot on record with considerable craft. You suspect that there is plenty more to come too.
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on 7 March 2014
One day I walked into the local musicstore, hearing some interesting music. Turned out to be the at that time Yo La Tengo's latest release "Popular Songs". The longs songs intrigued me. I went looking for their music and came across this record: a red colorful sleeve and a album title that made me smile “I am not afraid of you and I will kick your ass”. I tought, who names his album like this? And then to read the title of the opening track: “Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind”. What is that? Of course, I was curious about the music.

I am much into Americana, rockblues and singer-songwriter, symforock and I do appreciate the britrock a lot. So how was I going to deal with this indierock?
Well.

Oh boy! Bam! It kind of blew me away in the most positive way. From the pumping bass lines and strong guitar in the opening song the record contain a most varied collection of obscure, gentle, soft, heavy, mellow, poppish, soul, indie rock-and-popsongs. After the first four songs I have been introduced into the broad wide musicspectrum of Yo La Tengo. This is not a record with one style. This is a record containing different styles perfectly matched together.

The best definition would be a 70 minutes celebration of musical variety. It is just surprising to hear how easily the band switches from style. For some, that will the difficulty with the record, especially if you prefer to have a record in a distinctive style. The distinctibe thing with this one is the wide variety. “Daphnia” is a beautiful instrumental pianoballad with the sound of rain, two songs later guitarist Ira Kaplan wakes you up with the fast, punchy punkrocksong “Watch out for me Ronnie”. Before there is already the organ and drums pumping, somehow Carribean shuffle “The Room got heavy”. The album closes with their story about Yo La Tengo. A song that is building up its velocity and tension to accelerate into screaming guitars rock 'n' roll perfection.

The only thing to do after I had listen to this one to play the record again. And again. And again.
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on 4 March 2007
yo la tengo return once again with a brilliant album, its got all the yo la tengo signiture sounds, the noisy rockers, the quiet and beautiful ballads and the mad instrumental jams. However, for me this album lacks the unity apparent on other realeses such as i can hear the heart. There are, dare i say it, too many styles of music here??!! a brave statement i know, for a band who play everything from glam to shoegaze. nevertheless there are some real classic tracks on dislpay here. take mr tough for example, which is a stunning track and one of the most danceable songs yo la tengo have written. also feel like going home is glorious, however my favourite here is weakest part-noithing particularly new style wise, but magical all the same.

despite my criticism, im so glad to have a new yo la tengo record, which is needless to say, better than anything around today (except maybe the new flaming lips album!!)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 October 2011
This is a magnificent album, 70-odd minutes of the most eclectic music you're likely to hear. There are many influences at work here, none more signficant that that of the Velvets who, I would say, have been Yo La Tengo's major influence for over 20 years now.

The quality of the album is so high it's difficult to know where to begin. The album opener Pass The Hatchet and the closer The Story of Yo La Tengo are each 10-minute plus classics, reminding me of the Velvets at their absolute best (What Goes On, Rock n Roll, Waiting For The Man, etc). Similarly, I Should Have Known Better is another uptempo classic. However, as we should know by now, Yo La Tengo are also the greatest current exponent of the slow, aching, ultra-melodic ballad, and this album has a number of examples, none better than Black Flowers and the sublime Song For Mahila. How this band manage to create their distinctive sound from a three-piece never ceases to amaze me!

An essential album.
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on 22 May 2011
One of Yo La tengo's best albums although I like the slow core instrumental stuff more than the Latin style experimentation. Yo la Tengo are always at their best when it's the hushed vocals or laid back narration interweaving with that summer dusk inspired sound.
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on 1 May 2010
Confident, assured and experimental. Easily my fave Yo La Tengo, which is a controversial choice for some. Both in terms of sheer songwriting and structure this edges out the others. Sandwiched between two monumentally epic opening and closing tracks are some of the most varied and brilliant songs this band have released. 'The Story of Yo La Tengo' also has to be the most satisfying track the band has ever written and completely justifies the arrogance of the album title.
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on 9 November 2012
Although there is 70 minutes of music you can't get bored with it, it's so diverse and perfectly executed. For me, best YLT album ever.
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on 16 October 2007
I purchased this album mainly on the basis of the previous, largely very positive reviews. As such i was expecting a very diverse and charasmatic album. Unfortunately i was left to feel rather disappionted - yes the album is diverse in the styles it changes between throughout, however each of these is only delved into to a very adequet level. There is nothing on this album which could be percieved as particularly muscially innovative or experimental.

Probably the best track on the album 'Pass the hatchet, I think im good kind' whose looping base and improvised jazz guitar this would have quite nicely warmed up the album into some more interesting territory, had the juxtaposed second track 'Beanbag chair' not dashed any hopes of this album being any more than a collection of some of the more forgetable belle and sebastian dittys.

This album promised much and the band themselves may be able to produce some catchy poppy melodies and some fairly diverse styles, however they seem unable to execute this to a high enough standard to warrent their over hour long voyage into musical tedium. In summary I wouldnt recommend you spend any of you hard earned money or devote any of your precious time to this album.
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