Earlier this year, I played a set of covers with my fiancée and four friends of ours for a local music trivia event. We buzzed through songs by Bruce Springsteen, The Cure, The Misfits, Flaming Lips, Nelly Furtado, Annie, The Smiths, Fugazi and Judas Priest, and even closed out the set with a hand-clapping version of Gun Club’s “Sex Beat”—all with basslines played on tuba, mind you. I can say with absolute certainty that it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done, and I began to understand how people could make a full-time gig out of playing covers. Yo La Tengo isn’t one of these bands, as their albums of original material like I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One and Painful are their main attraction. But they must understand the fun of putting their own spin on others’ material, as they have carved out a notable side career as a cover band.
Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew have covered their share of songs as Yo La Tengo, even to the point of recording the covers-heavy Fakebook. But little did fans know that in 1997 the band would invent a pretty amusing alter-ego cover band called The Condo Fucks, subtly included in a fake catalog insert of I Can Hear the Heart alongside other acts like Künstler, The Electric Tie Rack and Unsanitary Napkins. Yo La Tengo have finally fulfilled The Condo Fucks’ promise with Fuckbook, a ten-track, half-hour set of fuzzed out covers that’s raw and ragged, but sure sounds like fun.
Fuckbook is far noisier and lo-fi than any of YLT’s proper releases, and instead has more in common with labelmates Times New Viking (who did battle with “Yo La Tango”). Through a mighty wall of distortion, the group lays down their garage skronk on ’60s and ’70s classics like The Beach Boys’ “Shut Down,” The Kinks’ “This Is Where I Belong” and The Small Faces’ “What’cha Gonna Do About It.” Each song is loud, chaotic, messy and rocks like hell, which is precisely the point of a band that call themselves Condo Fucks.
There’s nothing essential or groundbreaking on Fuckbook, but there is a whole lot of reckless fun, and that’s really the point of it all, anyhow. The whole album is a ridiculous good time, loud and obnoxious, and consistently enjoyable. Even for those new to the joke, this album’s hard not to like. I just hope this isn’t the last we hear of Condo Fucks, if for no other reason than to finally hear “Fuckin’ Gary Sandy.”
Yo La Tengo – Fakebook
Times New Viking – Rip It Off
The Quadsmen – Take Me To Your Liter
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.