AWW, YO LA TENGO, when they’re on (sleepy) fire, you just have to adore them; and they really are, right now.
They’ve just shared a second song from their forthcoming Sleepless Night EP, to follow their blissful cover of The Byrds’ majestic “Wasn’t Born To Follow”.
“Bleeding” is the only original on the single-sided five-tracker, standing alongside that Byrds cover and others by Ronnie Lane, Dylan, and 60s’ British bubblegum psych act The Flying Machine; and a proper YLT gem it is too, hushed and blissful in the best traditions of And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out. Listen and love below.
All the tracks on Sleepless Night were originally released as one side of an LP included within a limited-edition catalogue (published by LACMA and DelMonico Books/Prestel) for the LACMA exhibition, Yoshitomo Nara, the first international retrospective for that Japanese artist, a longtime YLT fan.
YLT’S Ira Kaplan says of the artist and the new EP: “We met Yoshitomo Nara in 2003; would see him at his art shows and our concerts. We DJd at an opening at the Asia Society, and on another occasion he drew a picture of Georgia strangling me on a Gloomy pencil case that became one of Georgia’s prized possessions until it was stolen from her at the bar at the K-West hotel in Shepherd’s Bush.
“’Wasn’t Born to Follow’ was recorded by Gene Holder as part of the sessions that resulted in [2015 album] Stuff Like That There. I’m sure I heard the Byrds’ song for the first time when my mom took me and a bunch of my friends to see Easy Rider. (One kid was forbidden by his parents from joining us, as was my younger brother. My dad took my brother to see Butch Cassidy instead, and I’m guessing my friend stayed home and did homework.)
“Ronnie Lane didn’t write “Roll On Babe,” but his is the version we’re covering. James recorded it in Hoboken, and that song was among the songs Georgia played when we DJd at the Asia Society.
“While making And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out in Nashville, Roger Moutenot recorded Dylan’s ‘It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry’, for a John Peel birthday show. As best as we can tell, we sent the one and only copy of the master to England. Yes, we’re as dumbfounded as you are, if not more so. After a lot of sleuthing, we came up with this.
“’Bleeding’ was written by us, recorded in Hoboken by James.
“James also recorded The Flying Machine’s ‘Smile a Little Smile for Me’ for Michael Shelley’s Super Hit Tsunami!, available to people who pledged to WFMU’s 2019 fundraising marathon.”
This Matador version of the EP is a single-sided 12” with original cover art by Nara, a drawing of the band by Hubley, and an illustration by McNew etched on the record’s flip. You can pre-order it from Matador here, or your local record emporium; Rough Trade, fr’instance.