The Good ‘Book’

Written by Chris O'Connell on . Posted in Posts.

You might remember Condo Fucks from an advertisement slipped into the liner notes of Yo La Tengo’s 1997 album I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. Along with Condo Fucks records, there was information on albums by The Unsanitary Napkins, The Electric Tie Rack and the original cast of Heroin! The Musical.

There’s one difference, however, between Condo Fucks and the other bands that were touted in the catalog—Condo Fucks is a real band. Sort of.

Condo Fucks, as everyone knows by now, is really Hoboken, NJ-based trio Yo La Tengo. Fuckbook, an obvious play on their 1990 covers-driven record Fakebook, is a foray into Nuggets-style garage rock, proto-punk and surfy pop, one that Yo La Tengo has made before in concert and on a number of marathon WFMU pledge drives.

If you were looking for a new Yo La Tengo album, you’ll have to wait. Not only are the songs not their own, but their production trademarks are also absent. Fuckbook has a bootleg-esque feel to it, where it doesn’t necessarily sound like a badly recorded album, but it doesn’t have that pop slickness that recent Yo La Tengo albums like Summer Sun and I Am Not Afraid of You, and I Will Beat Your Ass have had.

It is a collection of rock near-classics, recorded live in their rehearsal space and given Yo La Tengo’s patented fuzzed-out-bliss treatment. The result is a collection of fucked-up, damaged garage-punk jams that sound fresher than they have in years, thanks in part to the rollicking pace in which the Fucks run through them.

The songs they cover, like The Beach Boys’ “Shut Down” and Slade’s “Gudbuy T’Jane” sound sloppy, because they were obviously all recorded in one take, a fact that resonates with the false start at the beginning of “So Easy Baby.” After about half a measure in, the band stops and Ira shouts, “Hey, let’s start that one more time.” Hey, why not? It’s like catching Yo La Tengo crashing someone’s basement party, fumbling around with some instruments and playing a show of all covers because they’re wasted. It’s great.

Fuckbook is short, sweet and more interesting than most lo-fi records being made right now. True, the songs the band chooses are already garage rock and pop gems, but it could also be that Condo Fucks, or, um, Yo La Tengo, has been doing this a very long time. And with good reason.