Yo La Tengo
Little Honda


"Little Honda," which gets its name from the Beach Boys song which opens the disc, is a collection of covers by the critically adored trio Yo La Tengo, whose "I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One" was lauded as one of the best discs of 1997. It is an offbeat collection, including the aforementioned Beach Boys tune (also featured on the album) with covers of everyone from the Kinks to Massive Attack to the Urinals. It is relatively straightforward and surprisingly free of irony, given the band's penchant for twisting traditional pop conventions. It is, in fact, everything a cover album should be: a collection of tunes that are clearly favorites of the band which manage to pay homage to the original songs while at the same time bearing Yo La Tengo's unique imprint.

"Be Thankful for What You've Got," is stunning, and easily the best song on the disc. It's hard to imagine a sincere cover of electronica forefathers Massive Attack by an alt-rock trio, but Yo La Tengo pull it off beautifully. "No Return" and "Black Hole" are good but not particularly memorable, while the country-ish "How Much I've Lied" gets emotional without getting too cheesy. The final listed song, "By the Time It Gets Dark," is pristine, perfect—a gem that Yo La Tengo have polished to sparkling brilliance. The disc closes with two uncredited songs: a live version of "Little Honda," and a drunken, barely coherent live version of Queen's "We Are the Champions" (who says they take themselves too seriously?).

For fans, this disc is a must-have. And while there are many other Yo La Tengo albums that are more musically and emotionally rich, this one might not be such a bad starting place for the uninitiated, either.

Chris Pace

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