Condo Fucks Fuckbook

[Matador; 2009]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: punk, garage, glam
Others: The Troggs, The Small Faces, Richard Hell and the Voidoids

Cover records are really difficult to pull off. A band risks pinpointing too clearly their influences, and it's easy in retrospect to see where they may have cribbed their style. Plus, the balance between maintaining some degree of fidelity to the source material and altering the song enough to make it worth listening to again has been incredibly difficult for most bands to maintain. It's a perversely problematic undertaking, especially if the band never really had to write anything in the first place.

All of this would present a problem for Condo Fucks, except for the fact that they're just Yo La Tengo under an alias. Yo La Tengo is one of those bands who have done whatever the hell it has wanted and turned it all into gold. Few bands have marshaled such a great number of influences into one album as they did on I Can Hear The Heart Beating as One, and even fewer have been able to maintain such a consistent level of quality throughout their career.

So, then, I can't honestly be surprised that they've revived what everyone probably thought was a one-off joke back in the ’90s for an entire record of garage, punk, and glam covers. Even so, it's impressive how well they've managed to transform themselves into chaotically propulsive garage rockers. But the album's greatest strength -- that they've been able to nearly perfectly mimic the aesthetics of their subjects through style and production -- is also one of its greatest weaknesses. Many of the songs blur into a somewhat formless soup, and it's only after Ira Kaplan stops singing and Georgia Hubley or James McNew step in when the songs become unique.

Condo Fucks channel the danger and sex and reckless abandon that used to be synonymous with late-’60s and ’70s rock, but they still somehow retain some of the whimsy and unpretentious love of craft for which Yo La Tengo are known and respected. The songs are neither here nor there, which, to me, is exactly what a cover should be. That the men and woman behind Yo La Tengo have created yet another fine album after 25 years of existence and 11 full-lengths is outstanding. That they've managed to create a distinctive and enjoyable covers album that actually manages to stand its own against the originals is nothing short of a miracle.

1. What'cha Gonna Do About It
2. Accident
3. This Is Where I Belong
4. Shut Down
5. Shut Down Part 2
6. With A Girl Like You
7. The Kid With The Replaceable Head
8. Dog Meat
9. So Easy Baby
10. Come On Up
11. Gudbuy T'Jane

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