Posts Tagged ‘Julien Baker’

Baker

Memphis, TN-based songwriter Julien Baker is the latest addition to the Matador Records roster. The 21-year-old’s devastating and vulnerable debut album, Sprained Ankle, which was originally released in 2015 and now gets re-released by Matador. The album was recorded at Spacebomb Studios, though Julien’s songs don’t share the down-home gloss of the other albums produced there. Instead of beefing up her honest tunes with rich layering like Natalie Prass or Matthew E. White, Baker pares her songs down to their simplest possible format: alone, singing and playing acoustic guitar directly into the microphone, sometimes in a single take.

That decision resulted in a remarkable record, one full of beautiful, personal explorations revealed in stark intimacy. That choice makes a lot of sense for Baker’s voice, both in the literal and figurative sense. Rather than Prass’ sweet, soaring tones or White’s blue-eyed soul, Sprained Ankle is delivered in reedy whispers and chilled coos. Released just before she turned 20 years old, the record still sounds raw – not that her voice lacks control or power, but rather that the weariness of songs about death, breakups, and existential questioning are sung with incredible presence. They’re coming of age songs from someone still coming of age, the wounds still fresh, the big truths currently being revealed. There are the struggles of depression, drugs, loneliness, but the clear-eyed way she faces it all supersedes any platitude.

LP – The album comes with a new 7″ Funeral Pyre. Only Baker can make a song with such a darkly macabre title so heartbreakingly gorgeous, with her signature hushed-yet-lofty vocals soaring over a quietly fingerpicked melody that crescendos into layered, almost-orchestral beauty. The B-side, Distant Solar System, is another unheard song from the Sprained Ankle sessions.

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At the tail end of Boygenius’ penultimate song in their live set, Julien Baker shreds on the guitar, playing a classic rock-inspired solo that’s completely out of place in her or either of her bandmates’ back catalogue. It’s something Lucy Dacus mentioned in a recent interview, that in the recording sessions for the Boygenius EP, Phoebe Bridgers would “suggest an idea as a joke, and then we realized, ‘Wait, this is an amazing idea!’” Those lighthearted, playful vibes are very much on display when you see the folk supergroup live; when Baker begins to solo, Bridgers and Dacus try their absolute hardest to get her to laugh, sometimes waving lighters and other times rolling around on the ground. The trio’s live energy is undeniably infectious and the crowd is more than willing to send it right back, even at the end of a show that spans four whole hours. This round of Boygenius shows, likely to be the only ones of their kind, simply represent three good—and generationally talented—friends at the top of their respective songwriting games, having the time of their lives. While there’s a definite “I was there” feeling to these shows, we definitely hope this likely once-in-a-lifetime tour happens again sooner rather than later.

Boygenius performs “Me & My Dog” for Late Night with Seth Meyers.

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Manchester Orchestra and Julien Baker cover Pedro The Lion’s “Bad Things To Such Good People” Recorded in Manchester Orchestra’s studio outside Atlanta, GA — and produced by Andy Hull, bandmate/co-writer Robert McDowell, and Julien Baker.

Hull details the cover’s origin: “This song has held a deep weight with me since I was 16, and my awe of Bazan’s songwriting has never died down. It does what so few others can accomplish by painting a detailed and powerful world with minimal words, and allowing the listener to do the rest of the work. And working with Julien was an incredible experience…After meeting digitally and discussing how we could collaborate, we knew we had to do a Pedro song, and it suddenly clicked when she suggested this one. We met in person for the first time about 30 minutes before we started sketching out our re-creation. It didn’t take me but about five minutes to realize just how deeply talented and layered Julien is. I’ve called her ‘the truth’ ever since our first sessions and look forward to working with her as much as we can in the future.”

Net proceeds from sales and streaming will be donated to1 Million 4 Anna, a Foundation dedicated to Anna Basso with the mission to eradicate Ewing sarcoma. The Foundation’s main initiative is to fund promising Ewing sarcoma research, and also provides college scholarships for survivors as well as support to families with a family member receiving treatment.

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New Indie-rock godsends Boygenius aka Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus  made their TV debut on Monday’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, performing the song “Me & My Dog,” one of the three singles from their self-titled debut EP.

Bridgers takes lead on “Me & My Dog,” and if her opening lines (“We had a great day / even though we forgot to eat / and you had a bad dream”) don’t send shivers down your spine, you may want to verify that you have a heartbeat. Seeing Bridgers, Baker and Dacus step to their mics to sing in unison—to say nothing of Bridgers’ towering sustained note at the song’s climax is nearly sublime enough to make one forget what an anxiety-ridden day today is.

The trio surprise-released boygenius on digital platforms on October. 26th, two weeks ahead of its official physical release this Friday, November 9th. Bridgers, Baker and Dacus wll embark on a North American tour together .

Boygenius perform “Me & My Dog” on Late Night

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The good people at Matador Records have finally pulled back the curtain on their new supergroup made up of songwriters Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. The all-star trio’s self-titled, six-track EP Boygenius is coming out on November. 9th via Matador, but you can hear the project’s first three singles now.

Dacus, Baker and Bridgers’ mysterious and much-anticipated team-up first made waves in early August when Bridgers confirmed its existence at an NPR Music event. Soon after, a media outlet received a photo of the group, accompanied only by the word “boygenius” and the Matador logo. We now know that to be the name of both the trio and their forthcoming release, previewed via lead singles “Me & My Dog,” “Bite The Hand” and “Stay Down.”

Bridgers takes point on the affectionate, yet anxiety-ridden “Me & My Dog,” singing over steady electric guitar strums, “I had a fever / until I met you / Now you make me cool / but sometimes I still do / something embarrassing,” her gossamer vocals giving way to delicate banjo notes and droning synths. Baker’s voice bolsters Bridgers’ as the chorus-less song crescendos, pushing through the fears that obstruct desire. “I dream about it and I wake up from it,” the duo conclude, their voices drowned out by a rising tide of reverb.

Second single “Bite The Hand” is Dacus’ chance to shine, an unflinching declaration of independence that would have fit right in on Historian. What sets it apart from her solo work, however, is its choruses, on which Dacus, Baker and Bridgers harmonize to drop-dead gorgeous and increasingly powerful effect, warning an unwanted partner, “I can’t love you how you want me to.” The song closes on their voices, with nothing but bare conviction against the silence.

The devastating “Stay Down,” meanwhile, is all Baker, her trademark reverb-steeped guitars and emotive vocals expanded upon with scattershot percussion and moving strings. Her lyrics are shot through with heart-rending resignation: “I wasn’t a fighter till somebody told me / I had better learn to lean into the punch / so it don’t hurt as bad when they leave / There you were, turning your cheek,” Baker begins, later demanding, “Push me down into the water like a sinner, roll me under / and I’ll never come up again / I’ll just stay down.” Fuck us up, boygenius.

 

Dacus, Baker and Bridgers head out on tour together this November, though they won’t do so as a trio—rather, they’ll each be performing their own solo sets. But who knows? Judging by the unpredictable way in which their boygenius team-up has come to light, perhaps the collaborators will see their way to delivering some surprises live, as well.

Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus formed Boygenius after booking a tour together, but the trio had subconsciously been in the works for longer than that. Through a series of tours and performances together, and chance encounters that led to friendships – including Bridgers’ and Dacus’ first in-person meeting backstage at a Philadelphia festival, greenroom hangouts that felt instantly comfortable and compatible, a couple of long email chains and even a secret handshake between Baker and Dacus – the lyrically and musically arresting singer-songwriters and kindred spirits got to know each other on their own terms.

“When we met, Lucy and Phoebe and I were in similar places in our lives and our musical endeavors, but also had similar attitudes toward music that engendered an immediate affinity,” Baker explains. “Lucy and Phoebe are incredibly gifted performers, and I am fans of their art outside of being their friends, but they are also both very wise, discerning and kind people whom I look up to in character as much as in talent.”

Listen to boygenius’ EP “Me & My Dog,” “Bite The Hand” and “Stay Down”.

In 2015, 20-year-old Memphis singer-songwriter Julien Baker stunned folks with her debut album, Sprained Ankle. The spare arrangements, plaintive vocals, and candidness about how she relates to everything from significant others and herself to times of trouble and God’s mysterious presence in her life were all striking revelations, especially from such a young voice.

Her follow up album release Turn Out the Lights finds Baker seasoned far beyond what you’d expect two years later. Her growth as a lyricist astounds, and she’s expanded her still-minimalist instrumentation to include piano and ambient parts and now trusts her voice to harmonize and draw attention to itself by raising her volume as songs call for it. No record out this year boasts a more affecting and beautiful one-two punch than singles “Appointments” and “Turn Out the Lights”, and few emerging singer-songwriters have us as excited as Baker.

The 2nd video from Julien Baker’s long-awaited 2nd album, the titular track “Turn Out The Lights”, directed by Sophia Peer. ‘Turn Out The Lights’ is available now.

From the new album ‘Turn Out the Lights’ out October 27th on Matador Records, Essential Tracks: “Appointments”, “Turn Out the Lights”, and “Everything That Helps You Sleep”

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I don’t know who it was that once said “From moments of sadness, moments of destruction, moments of grief, from those moments beauty can spring forth like a rare flower that only blooms once a year in the coldest snow and darkest night.” Actually, I do know who said.

‘Stage Four’ by Touché Amoré. Lyrically it’s an album that details the treatment, suffering and final days of vocalist Jeremy Bolm’s mum, before she passed away from cancer in 2014. And what a fucking album it is. I was Completely blindsided by how emotionally raw this album is. They’ve always dealt with some heavy issues, but this one just blew me to bits. Remember last year when Sufjan Stevens released the heart-wrenchingly incredible ‘Carrie and Lowell’, an album all about his absent mum and her passing? Well, take that album, but instead of Sufjan being sombre and sad, he’s really, Really angry. That’s ‘Stage Four’. I can’t even begin to comprehend the emotional pull this album must have on all the band, but especially Bolm. The loss of a loved one is a hard and trying time for anyone, but to then be brave enough to get on stage and spill your heart out about it and how you now feel about it and all your fears and insecurities .

Just go and listen to it. Every song reveals a new unforgettable detail about Bolm’s mother’s treatment, his inner mental health and his constant wrestling with grief and depression. Bolm easily cycles through the stages of grief at least 27 times repeatedly throughout the album. Lines such as “I took inventory of what I took for granted and I ended up with more than I imagined” and “She passed away about an hour ago when you were onstage living the dream” are utterly shattering and they’re peppered throughout the whole album. There are parts of songs that Bolm sings in clean vocals, in a voice that almost sounds as if it’s on the very edge, creeping closer to completely letting go, and I was right there with him.When you listen to it, don’t you dare tell me you listened to ‘Skyscrapers’ without welling up at all. I almost blub every time I hear that song. Bolm’s uninhibited howls of pure grief at the huge climax sends shivers down my spine. That isn’t singing, it’s pure emotion and the weight of the loss washing over him, and by an easy extension me. And then her final voice message plays, and your heart is broken all over again.

It is a knockout punch of emotion, a raging sea in the midst of a storm, Please go and listen to it. Bring some tissues.

The Week in Music: Paste's Favorite Albums, Songs, Performances and More

It’s impossible to assess Julien Baker’s sophomore effort, Turn Out the Lights, without acknowledging the considerable shadow of its its predecessor, Sprained Ankle. released two years ago, the debut snuck up on all but a handful of people. Turn Out the Lights hopefully will sneak up on no one. It sounds lush and meticulously made. Sprained Ankle was stripped to the bone, sonically speaking, but its followup features lots of keyboards, plus string sections, vocal harmonies and more atmosphere.

From the new album ‘Turn Out the Lights’ out October 27th on Matador Records.

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With a new album due out next week I just wanted to reflect on Julien Baker’s release of last year and this perfect session for the “Tiny Desk Concert “ series

There are nine spare, simple songs on Julien Baker’s debut album, “Sprained Ankle”, and every one of them is sad. In fact, she came to the Tiny Desk with an untitled new one — since given the name “Funeral Pyre” — and she appropriately introduced it as “Sad Song #11.” But Baker’s shimmering electric-guitar picking, the purity of her voice and the yearning way she sings make each of her songs lovely and memorable rather than merely somber. She takes raw emotions and weaves them into perfect bits of memorable poetry like this, from the song “Good News”: In the thin air my ribs creak Like wooden dining chairs when you see me Always scared that every situation ends the same With a blank stare For fans of Torres, another Tennessee musician, there’s a similar intensity to that electric guitar and lonesome sound. But unlike the intensity Torres unleashes with her voice, Baker lets her words carry the volume. It’s a tone that lulls you into her world and has me eagerly anticipating “Sad Song #12” and beyond. Sprained Ankle was released last year.

Set List: “Sprained Ankle” “Funeral Pyre” “Something”

Sometimes I feel like this record is one of the biggest risks I’ve taken in my life. But it’s the kind of risk that’s a necessity, so it doesn’t feel risky at all. From the moment the album appeared in my mind, it knew where it was going – my job was just to clear the path.
In a time of intense uncertainty, it felt good to harness a spirit of recklessness, which sometimes is the only thing that can stand up to the anxiety you would otherwise feel.
This record is about staring down dark things and seeing them fully, which isn’t the same thing as acceptance. It’s just a necessity in and of itself, and something that can empower.
It’s also about playing music with my friends, love, ideas, and everything else that chose to tumble onto the page over the last year and a half.
I’m so proud to be able to bring it to you today.  Tamara Lindeman The Weather Station.

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Julien Baker’s 2015 debut Sprained Ankle earned her spare, intimate songwriting a passionate following. The title track is as close to indie classic status as a song that’s hardly two years old can be, meaning fans have eagerly awaited new material since Baker announced she’d signed to Matador Records earlier this year. She’s announced her sophomore album and first full-length for MatadorTurn Out the Lightswhich arrives October 27th.

Alongside the album announcement comes “Appointments,” the album’s second song and a slow, twinkly setting for Julien Baker’s signature confessional hush. listen to the song below,

Stranger in the Alps artwork

L.A. singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers’ debut LP is a collection of songs about intimacy, documenting how our relationships affect the way we view ourselves and interact with others.

Phoebe Bridgers’ career has been propelled by fellow musicians. Ryan Adams, Conor Oberst, and Julien Baker have all sung the praises of the 23-year-old Los Angeles singer-songwriter, leading up to her full-length debut Stranger in the Alps. Fittingly, the album itself is also populated by other artists: Bridgers writes about lost legends like Bowie and Lemmy down through the local hobbyists who haunt their hometowns like ghosts in faded band tees. In “Scott Street,” she reads into how an old flame tells her his drums are “too much shit to carry.” In “Motion Sickness,” one of the year’s most exquisite breakup anthems, she lands her harshest jab in the chorus: “Hey, why do you sing with an English accent? I guess it’s too late to change it now.”

Stranger in the Alps is a collection of songs about intimacy, documenting how our relationships affect the way we view ourselves and interact with others. The crux of Bridgers’ writing arrives in small details: a casual exchange of words, a song played on a long car ride, the moments we relive in our heads once we get back home. Bridgers’ voice has a breezy, conversational flutter that helps her stories of heartbreak and loss avoid morbidity. She sounds best when she double-tracks it in layers of light falsetto: an effect that, depending on what she’s singing, can sound sweet and soothing or scalding like feedback