Tuesday, October 26th, 2004
Strange environment at Rachael Yamagata’s Toronto debut last night, not least of all because it got started at the wee hour of 7:15 in the evening. Presented as a ‘showcase’, it certainly didn’t feel like a regular concert. The audience was probably split pretty evenly between devoted fans and indifferent industry types – and maybe a few like me, just curious and taking advantage of a free show.
The buzz on Yamagata is that she’s the new Fiona Apple, but without the psychosis – this is based mostly on their vocal ranges (low), their instrument of choice (the piano) and their preferred songwriting subjects (girl done wrong by boy). I’m not really familiar with Ms Apple’s work, nor do I especially like what I’ve heard, so I can’t comment on the accuracy of the comparison. Last night was my first real exposure to Ms Yamagata, however, and I was fairly impressed. She spent about equal time on both the keyboard and the guitar, singing her songs about love gone bad and guys who were dicks to her (her words) in her soulful, raspy voice. There were a few really standout tracks (I had “Be Be Your Love” in my head all day) but there was a definite consistent level of quality across all the material. I wonder how long she can continue working that particular wellspring of inspiration, but that’s her problem, not mine. If she wants to keep getting involved with unsuitable men for the artistic inspiration, more power to her.
Though she seemed a little nervous at first – perhaps the ‘showcase’ atmosphere had her spooked as well, she loosened up as the set went on and engaged the crowd, telling stories about her band with whom she was completing a six-week American tour. I was initially a little skeptical/suspicious of her band, who looked a little too note-perfect hipster/Hot Topic for my tastes but that was probably just the cynical indie kid in me talking. They were fine musicians and the song arrangements were nice and lush, but I will maintain they’re trying a little too hard with the wardrobe choices. Anyway, it was an enjoyable show (Pics here), especially since it didn’t cost me anything and I didn’t have to stay up late. She seemed uncertain as to whether her record Happenstance was available in Canada – well it is, and I’ll probably be keeping an eye out for it. She’s not doing anything revolutionary, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still good listening.
Luna’s final album Rendezvous, comes out today, and if there’s one thing that’s as certain as me hoofing it to Soundscapes after work today to pick it up, it’s that they won’t have it in stock yet. This is one of the few occasions in which I curse the unreliable independent label distribution system. Curse you! To dull the inevitable tang of disappointment, we’ve got a couple pieces on the band from The Japan Times and The New York Post, wherein it’s revealed that a film crew will be accompanying the band on their final tour for a future documentary. Pitchfork and Metacritic are also on the case with reviews of the last record.
Anyone who missed Jon Stewart on 60 Minutes this past Sunday night (like me) can read a pretty thorough summary of the segment here.
Acid reflux. Who in the Ashlee pool had ‘acid reflux’? Damn, I said ‘terrorists’. I was going to go with acid reflux but figured that the terrorists had sabotaged her performance because they hate freedom. But no, acid reflux. I don’t think any of us expected them to say that.
Update: Legendary British DJ John Peel has died at age 65. The man’s influence on independent music was incalculable. Respect.
np – Elliott Smith / From A Basement On The Hill