Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
Pause The Tragic Ending
Review of Rachael Yamagata's Elephants… Teeth Sinking Into Heart
Hilary WalshWell this certainly took a while. Four years on from the release of her debut Happenstance, Rachael Yamagata has finally released the follow-up in Elephants … Teeth Sinking Into Heart, and perhaps in an effort to make up for the wait, it’s a double album. Well, sort of.
Though the physical release is divvied up into two CDs, the contents could quite easily fit onto one. The separation is intended to be thematic, with the first disc – Elephants – consisting of intimate and sometimes smouldering balladry that treads the well-worn terrain of lust and love and the brokenheartedness that ensues, while the second – Teeth Sinking Into Heart – does much the same, except with louder guitars and a defiantly snarling delivery. Perhaps tellingly, it’s not an even split. Elephants runs ten songs long (one instrumental, one hidden) while Teeth only lasts five, and the last of those, “Don’t”, hardly qualifies as a rocker. It’s more of a final note of resignation.
As she proved on Happenstance, Yamagata is perfectly capable of handling both sides of the musical coin – her smoky rasp of a voice is just as suited to the downcast weepers as it is the more venomous sentiments and she’s just as deft behind the guitar as she is the piano, though the Teeth end of things is decidedly more aggressive than the more uptempo moments on her debut. The imbalance on the album is probably meant more as a mirror of reality – anger is intense but only lasts a short while, but sadness can drag on forever. Or maybe she just had more slow songs.
It’s easy and probably quite accurate to file Yamagata under adult-contemporary singer-songwriter likely to soundtrack Grey’s Anatomy, though the rich-yet-lean production from Mike Mogis probably sounds like it was done by Steve Albini when compared to her more slickly produced peers. And even if she doesn’t transcend that particular style, she’s still damn good at it and everyone – I don’t care who they are – is capable of having their heartstrings tugged by a sad song, if it’s the right sad song. And Yamagata has got lots of them – surely one will do the trick.
Yamagata is hitting the road this Fall and will be at the Mod Club on December 12 for what, I think, is her first headlining show in Toronto in four years and even that was an industry showcase deal. She’s been through a couple times in a support capacity but never on her own. So again, a long time in coming.
Video: The Kills – “Tape Song”
When Okkervil River released The Stand-Ins this year, it cut the life cycle of The Stage Names down from what it arguably should have been (or doubled it, whatever), and as a result this video from the first album never made it out there. So the director has put it up himself. Via Antville.
Noah & The Whale’s December 9 show has been moved from the El Mocambo to the Rivoli.
Cut Copy return to town for the third time in a year with a show at Circa on March 20.
It’s almost the holiday season, and that means traditions like the Skydiggers Christmas shows at the Horseshoe on December 19 and 20 and The Sadies ringing in the New Year at the ‘Shoe, as always, on December 31. Tickets for all are $20.