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Rachel Yamagata

Rachel Yamagata

by Mario Martin
November 2004

Some of the most eclectic musicians have hit stage at Shank Hall. Garbage played their second show ever at the venue and managed to play so loud they blew a few amps. In the audience were a handful of Butch Vig fanatics that comprised most of the roughly 50-person audience. Alanis Morrissette also played the stage (with then drummer Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters) before her sold out arena tours. Many more preceded and many more followed. Rachael Yamagata is soon to be in the same echelon as these artists.

A quiet setting surrounding the venue produces the right mood and atmosphere from the last time Rachael performed in Milwaukee at The Rave (opening for Gomez). Subtle yet inviting, Shank Hall’s sound system and décor remain the eye-candy while inside the club, as the feel and anticipation peak for opener Tom McRae after Cameron McGill’s Damien Rice-like crooning.

McRae’s most recent outing, Just Like Blood (Nettwerk) has served as a reassessment of music in the singer/songwriter genre as its popularity has surpassed his previous record which garnered him much acclaim. McRae even received the nomination for the Mercury Music Prize for his self-titled debut in 2001. Often compared to Bob Dylan and Nick Drake, McRae stands tall on his own laurels and gifts the audience a piece of his own self. Regardless the prestige of the nods by the press and even within the industry, McRae remains a humble figure accompanied by his guitar and his lovelorn voice that belt out some of the darkest lyrics a singer sedated by his craft can fathom.



by Andrew Frey
January 2003

An interview with Yakuza singer and saxophone player Bruce Lamont


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Alex Schaaf of Yellow Ostrich

Yellow Ostrich

Interview with Yellow Ostrich Mastermind Alex Schaaf
by John Noyd
February 2014

Starting in Prairie DuChien before landing in Brooklyn NY by way of Appleton, singer-songwriter Alex Schaff has gone from recording in his bedroom with a drum machine to fronting the indie-rock band YELLOW OSTRICH. With a bold new album and a tour that takes him back to Wisconsin, MAXIMUM INK took the opportunity to ask Alex a few questions.

MAXIMUM INK: With an album titled, “Cosmos,” and song titles, “Terror,” “In the Dark,” and, “Don’t Be Afraid,” it seems like you were tackling some deep issues.

ALEX SCHAAF: A lot of the album was inspired by astronomy. I really got into Carl Sagan; read all of his books and watched his TV series (which the album gets its name from). I quickly came to realize that “science” wasn’t as boring as I thought, that the way the universe works is amazing and awe-inspiring and that the real explanation for things is way more magical and incredible than any of the alternate explanations that are out there. Those kinds of things were running through my head when I was writing a lot of the lyrics. I took those ideas and adapted them to a smaller, more down-to-earth perspective. The songs aren’t really about space or astronomy; they’re about regular people and day-to-day life, with the added perspective and knowledge that studying the way the universe works brings to you. I love that in a normal day we can both think, “the sun’s going to die someday, we’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do next,” and, “Do I have enough room on my DVR to record the new Mad Men episode.” I got really interested in the way those two perspectives co-exist.


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