Yo La Tengo are tree-huggers. Or, if not huggers, then at least stalkers, who lovingly caress the tree with their eyes and/or camera lenses! The animated video for six-minute slow burner “Before We Run,” the first track to emerge from the Hoboken indie heroes’ upcoming Fade, ornaments a shaggy tree with vibrant colors. Now the band has shared album opener “Ohm” with another set of arboreal visuals.
Fade will arrive on January 15 via Matador, whose Matablog helpfully explains that Yo La Tengo played music from the record over the weekend at a big tree in Portland’s Overlook Park. Through “some wild geo-targeting magic,” Portland residents could hear the tracks, and this time-lapse video by Josiah Marshall and Chris Cantino captures what went on around the majestic piece of vegetation. The tree, it’s now revealed, will also star on the album cover.
Like “Before We Run” and the alternate version of album track “Stupid Things” that has also surfaced, “Ohm” lends itself easily to tree-related metaphors, and it’s as meditative as its title suggests. A sweetly lilting melody and gentle male-female harmonies nest atop a distortion-seared, krautrock-propulsive drone that gradually changes and reveals itself with the Zen-like subtlety of the video, or nature itself; handclaps arrive just in time for the gorgeous do-do-do vocals to give way to a casually blistering guitar solo.
Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan, no slouch in the music-knowledge department, offers his own historical comparison for the weekend’s tree-in. He says in a statement on Matablog, “I am reminded of the oddball great Beach Boys song ‘A Day in the Life of a Tree,’ from Surf’s Up and sung on that record by their manager at the time Jack Rieley (adequate vocalists obviously being hard to come by in the Beach Boys proper), covered once and only once by YLT–Sept. 17, 1998, at Maxwell’s.” The results are easier to “get” than The Tree of Life, though in their own modest way, similarly breathtaking.