Just Announced: Rachael Yamagata will play Union Transfer on 7/11

20081005_rachael_yamagata_33Singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata brings her Heavyweight EP tour to Philadelphia on July 11th for a show at Union Transfer.  The Virginia native has been working non-stop for the last year and a half, quickly following up her 2011 full-length Chesapeake with the recent EP.  Last time she was in town, Yamagata stopped by WXPN for a Free at Noon performance – listen back to the show here and check out an interview she did with The Key here.  Tickets for the Union Transfer show go on sale this Friday, April 5th, at noon; more information can be found here.  Below, watch a recording of Rachael Yamagata performing a pair of songs from Heavyweight. 


Listen to Rachael Yamagata’s Free at Noon performance

Last week, singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata joined us for a Free at Noon Concert at WXPN, playing a selection of songs from her new Heavyweight EP as well as her back-catalogue. She mixed moving, emotional songs with lively banter, and welcomed Philadelphia musician Adrien Reju onstage for the latter part of the set. Check out a photo recap of the concert in the gallery above, see the setlist below, and listen to Rachael’s performance in its entirety here (via the WXPN media player). This week’s Free at Noon features a performance by Tracy Grammar upstairs at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia; RSVP to the show here. Continue reading →


Interview: Rachael Yamagata on community, Rocky, and why once this tour is over, she could really use a nap

For nearly a decade now, Rachael Yamagata has seduced and charmed audiences with her gorgeous vocals and rare ability to encapsulate love and heartbreak in a 4-minute pop song.  Her exceptional voice and songwriting have won the hearts of everyone from Rhett Miller to Ryan Adams (both of whom she’s collaborated with), not to mention thousands of fans worldwide.

In 2011, she formed her own record label, Frankenfish, and released her third studio album, Chesapeake, to critical acclaim. Now, just one year later, she’s already released a new EP, Heavyweight, and is hitting the road to support it. I rang up Yamagata in advance of her Friday “Free at Noon” performance—to talk community, Rocky, and why once this tour is over, she could really use a nap.

The Key:  The new EP is called Heavyweight, and “Heavyweight” is also the name of the first song. Tell me about the idea behind it. Is the song about someone in particular? What does it mean to be a heavyweight?

Rachael Yamagata: It’s actually very silly, the idea behind it—I was in this serious relationship at the time where [my boyfriend and I] were constantly battling…and actually I had read somewhere that our two different personality types combined was like two boxers constantly trying to knock each other out [laughs]. I’m also a big fan of Rocky; I used to run on the Ben Franklin Bridge constantly and listen to the Rocky soundtrack, and so I kept thinking about Rocky, and the idea of this person existing solely on braggadocio, and approaching the world with this blustery strength and suppressing vulnerability…and just the kind of burden they hold as a result. It’s such a tenuous position, because once you’ve become a heavyweight champion….you know. What happens if you lose the fight? There’s always that vulnerability creeping in. And so in this song, and also in this relationship, there’s the idea that I’ll stand next to you no matter what, even though I know this about you. Continue reading →


Livestream Rachael Yamagata’s show from Joe’s Pub tonight; see her at FAN and the First Unitatian Church this Friday

Rachael Yamagata is playing XPN’s Free At Noon this Friday, December 7th. On Friday evening, she performs an intimate show at the First Unitarian Church, that you can buy tickets for here. Yamagata is touring in support of a gorgeous new EP, Heavyweight that you can purchase here. Tonight, Rachael is playing two sold out shows in New York at Joe’s Pub. Starting at 9:30 p.m. EST, you can watch the show in full on Livestream here. Sign up to see Rachael at XPN’s Free At Noon this Friday here. In case you missed our featured My Morning Download, download “Falling In Love Again” here.


My Morning Download: “Falling In Love Again” by Rachael Yamagata

Singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata is out on tour and is playing the First Unitarian Church on Friday, December 7th. She’s got a gorgeous new six song EP out called Heavyweight that she’s selling at her shows and on her web site here. There are few confessional singer-songwriters who are as good as Yamagata at capturing the essence of broken hearts and finding redemption in lost love. Her singing on this record is as emotionally intense as ever, the piano playing as lyrical as her story telling and the string arrangements on the EP are stunning. The EP is out on her own Frankenfish Records, and she gets some help from Liz Phair and Madi Diaz on the song “Has It Happened Yet.” Rachael’s made yet another excellent collection of songs and in the context of the singer-songwriter continuum Heavyweight</em> is about as blue as Joni Mitchell’s Blue can get. Below, download “Falling In Love Again.”


The Week’s Best MP3 Downloads, incl. Gracie, Rachael Yamagata and Zilla Rocca

Electronic-pop outift Gracie lent some songs to our Key Studio Sessions series this week.  Andrew Balasia, the man behind the moniker, stopped by the studio on his way to a show at Johnny Brenda’s and recorded three tracks off of his upcoming Bleeder LP.  Download the Key Sessions rendition of “Creature Pleaser” (the album’s first single) below and check out the full session here.  Gracie has hinted that he will be back for a show in Philly before the month is finished, so stay tuned for more information on that and the release of Bleeder.

Continue reading →


Download a free mixtape from Rachael Yamagata (playing the First Unitarian Sanctuary on 12/7)

Heartrending, nomadic singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata is touring chamber-style this fall – with promises of intimate venues, string sections, and wine. For her local show, the onetime Philly resident will play in the sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church on December 7 (more information here). This week Yamagata released a free mixtape through in anticipation of the tour; listen to it, or download it in exchange for your email address, in the player below. Continue reading →


Just announced: Aimee Mann playing Union Transfer in October; Rachael Yamagata playing First Unitarian Church in December

This just in: Aimee Mann is playing Union Transfer on Friday, October 26th. Rachael Yamagata has announced a US tour and is playing the First Unitarian Church on Friday, December 7th. Tickets to both of these shows go on sale this Friday, August 10th at Noon. Go here for a free download of the title song to Mann’s forthcoming album, “Charmer.”


Recap: Rachael Yamagata at World Cafe Live

The uninhibited nature of Rachael Yamagata’s performance last night at World Café Live was a reflection of her new DIY mindset. After leaving a major label, she decided to self-record, fund, and distribute her latest album, Chesapeake. This process resulted in a record that is noticeably more upbeat and lighthearted than its predecessors: songs such as “Starlight” and “The Way It Seems To Go” are up-tempo oddities in Yamagata’s brooding, ballad driven discography. Rarely are there artists so unrestrained and sociable that they allow the audience to slip into the comfort of hanging out with a good friend—but, last night, Yamagata accomplished just that. With constant banter and laughter, Yamagata and her band embodied the free-spirited production behind Chesapeake. But she still maintained her singer-songwriter appeal by performing older tracks and the occasional new ballad.

She appropriately began the set with the first song off her new record, “Even If I Don’t,” which immediately set a lively tone for the rest of the evening. Initially, the five-piece band progressed from song to song with little interruption. The band-mates familiarity with each other was obvious as they jokingly made faces at each other and remained effortlessly in sync. Yamagata’s commentary became more and more habitual as she delved deeper into the setlist. Making jokes about sex, long-distance relationships, and her ancestry, she created an unabashed atmosphere that ultimately allowed for more interaction between the band and the audience. This mockery provided a segue into the witty but hyper self-conscious tune, “The Way It Seems to Go.” Yamagata classified the song as a laughable autobiography. The laughter didn’t last for too long though, as she eventually played a few of the darker ballads she is known for. “Sunday Afternoon” kicked off a series of laments to broken relationships. The lights dimmed as any cheerfulness was briefly cast out of the venue and replaced with a sorrowful guitar solo and lyrics such as, “You poured blood in my heart, I can’t get enough, I’m drowning and you can’t decide.”

Yamagata’s affecting presence at the keyboard enveloped the once rambunctious crowd. Her sorrowful lyricism coupled with bluesy, alto vocals exposed even the most callous attendee, as the mood became almost uncomfortably sentimental. Listeners swayed back and forth, avoiding eye contact with one another. Then her stripped-down performance of “Elephants” confirmed her ability to detail even the most pained relationships. Lyrically poignant, the dark ballad draws parallels between the animal kingdom and humanity, ending with the warning, “So for those of you falling in love, keep it kind, keep it good, keep it right. Throw yourself in the midst of danger, but keep one eye open at night.” Words like that left the audience reeling, but Yamagata and her band-mates managed to salvage the lightheartedness that had once been so prominent by continuing to joke with and talk to the crowd. Her hit song “Worn Me Down” pulled the audience out of its melancholy haze. Then, after some chitchat and lyrical explanations, she ended the set with “Dealbreaker.” Yamagata returned with “Reason Why” as her encore, which turned into an impromptu call and response with the audience. After the show, anyone who was willing to wait got the chance to meet Yamagata, who came out to sign t-shirts, records and to take pictures.

The sound of Rachael Yamagata’s previous albums mirror the constrained and calculated environment they were produced in. After the live performance, it is clear that music-industry conglomerates might have stifled some of Yamagata’s artistic expression. There is a certain freeness about Chesapeake that was never present on Happenstance and Elephants… Teeth Sinking Into Heart. Yamagata’s willingness to interact with the crowd and her ability to compose upbeat tunes and darkly honest ballads proves that she thrives on the liberality of being completely self-governed. —Caitlyn Grabenstein


Listen to Rachael Yamagata’s new album, Chesapeake

Rachael Yamagata’s latest album, Chesapeake, is now available via online streaming at Paste Magazine. The partially fan-funded record features the two singles “Even If I Don’t” and “Starlight.”  Yamagata, who played WXPN’s Free At Noon at World Cafe Live last Friday to promote the album, will be returning to WCL for a headlining show on October 31st. —Caitlyn Grabenstein