Yo La Tengo, Lambchop | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Yo La Tengo, Lambchop

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YO LA TENGO, LAMBCHOP

A few weeks ago Yo La Tengo released its ninth album, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out (Matador), and yeah, for the eighth time in the last 13 or so years, the trio has made its best album yet. Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew always find a way to make themselves over without changing their fundamental appeal, which is in part their fanlike enthusiasm for music--they were rabid record collectors before they ever played a note, and their curiosity doesn't seem to have waned over the years. Lately they've been inviting people they admire to join the fun: for 1997's I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, they hired ยต-ziq, My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields, and members of Tortoise to remix the lovely "Autumn Sweater"; this time out they've drafted free-jazz players like Susie Ibarra and, on a recent single, members of Other Dimensions in Music. And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out is a remarkable and beautiful acceptance of maturity, both musically and lyrically: The words have always reflected Kaplan and Hubley's relationship (they're married), but perhaps because the sounds on the new album are so soft they stand out more, whether it's Kaplan sharing his reticence about dancing at a party ("Last Days of Disco") or Hubley whispering "And you won't even remember this for long / When it ends all right" in the poignant fight song "Tears Are in Your Eyes." Kaplan wails on his guitar for a spell on "Cherry Chapstick," but otherwise the album is all about delicate interaction and hypnotic grooves, subtlety and gradual development, mood and texture. For this show, Superchunk's Mac McCaughan and the Clean's David Kilgour will flesh out the band, and to encourage proper attentiveness, Metro is hauling out about 600 chairs--which will also benefit the opening act, the bizarre Nashville soul-country orchestra Lambchop. On their fifth album, Nixon (Merge), the 13 musicians revisit the languorous, horn- and string-swaddled 70s soul they explored at length while backing Vic Chesnutt on the brilliant The Salesman and Bernadette in 1998. Bandleader Kurt Wagner croons his idiosyncratically knotty and misanthropic lyrics--though coming from a guy who not so long ago wrote songs like "My Face Your Ass" and "Your Fucking Sunny Day," I guess a couplet like "I've been a dick with it / You're just not used to it" is relatively mellow--in a falsetto that occasionally recalls Miss Piggy more than Curtis Mayfield, and his limited range sometimes can't match the beauty of the arrangements. But Nixon is stunningly gorgeous anyway, and for obvious reasons, a gig by the full Lambchop lineup is a rare thing in these parts, so show up early. Saturday, 7:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

Peter Margasak

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Christian Lantry/Brydget Carrillo.

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