When I interviewed Christina Martinez of Boss Hog and Pussy Galore back in January, I commented that Pussy Galore, and her husband/bandmate Jon Spencer, were accused in the 1980s of being “overeducated, privileged, smug postmodern, deconstructionist plagiarizers (roughly).” That was a bit harsh in hindsight, but it could just as easily be said of most indie bands today. Twenty-three years ago, Pussy Galore released their most notorious recording, an entire cover album of Exile on Main Street that butchered the Rolling Stones classic with blissful glee. This year, Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew of Yo La Tengo, a band of unquestionable integrity, have done essentially the same thing in their alter egos, the Condo Fucks.
Rather than take down larger-than-life rock gods with Fuckbook, the Condo Fucks tear down cooler-than-thou rock acts such as the Electric Eels, Richard Hell, the Troggs, the Flaming Grooves — and Yo La Tengo. (The name Fuckbook, of course, is a rip on Fakebook, one of Yo La Tengo’s most revered albums that similarly consisted of covers.) If Pussy Galore was following the no-wave calling cry “kill yr idols,” the Condo Fucks are exposing indie hipness that came out of that calling cry as a thin façade for what is essentially the same kind of Jagger idolatry.
As a result, Fuckbook is the best joke fake lo-fi cover album since Pussy Galore’s Exile, except with the added irony of the roasters becoming the roastees. It’s a ridiculously fun album, one that fakes fake banter, makes lo-fi as an “aesthetic” sound as ugly as it can truly sound, and creates a music-snob safe zone where no songwriter, from the ’50s on, is “underappreciated” enough to avoid ridicule.
Call it a lark if you will, but Kaplan, Hubley and McNew have been around long enough to know how to cut through the bullshit should they so choose. Yo La Tengo may end up going back to the sincere variations on Arthur Lee’s Love that have characterized the band’s last two albums, but God bless this trio for taking the time to Kill Our False Prophets. It’s mean, but as the Stones themselves once said, “it’s only rock ‘n’ roll.”