Posts Tagged ‘Turn Out The Lights’

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Julien Baker’s solo debut, Sprained Ankle, was one of the most widely hailed works of 2015. The album, recorded by an 18-yearold and her friend in only a few days, was a bleak yet hopeful, intimate document of staggering experiences and grace, centered entirely around Baker’s voice, guitar, and unblinking honesty. The album appeared on year-end lists everywhere from NPR Music to New York Magazine’s Vulture.

For years, Baker and a group of close friends have performed as the band Forrister (formerly The Star Killers), but when college took her four hours away, her need to continue creating found an outlet through solo work. The intent was never to make these songs her main focus, yet the process proved to be startlingly cathartic. As each song came into shape, it became more apparent that Baker had genuinely deep, surprisingly dark stories to tell from her thus far short life . Tales of her experiences are staggering, and when set to her haunting guitar playing, the results are gut wrenching and heartfelt, relatable yet very personal.  There’s something wonderfully hypnotizing about Baker gently confessing her soul with such tremendous honesty. Baker has met critical acclaim for her performances and song writing, described as emotively cathartic, as well as a fresh take on folk music. Her album Sprained Ankle has been described as featuring pared-back fragile songs, while Turn Out the Lights features more developed song structures while retaining the raw emotion of its predecessor

Baker has opened for artists including Death Cab for Cutie, Conor Oberst, The Decemberists, Belle & Sebastian, Paramore, The Front Bottoms, and Manchester Orchestra. Julien Baker won the hearts of music lovers right out of the gate with the startling intimacy and meticulous craftsmanship of her 2015 debut, Sprained Ankle. Her sophomore album from the following year, Turn Out the Lights, built on that with a somewhat more elaborate sound palette, recorded at Ardent Studios. Since then, her only release has been the 2018 EP by boygenius, a collaborative effort with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, and fans have been scanning the skies for any new solo work with great anticipation.

Now the wait is nearly over, with two new videos heralding the release of her third album, “Little Oblivions”, due out on February 26 via Matador Records.

In 2017 she was signed to Matador Records.  In 2018, Baker formed the supergroup Boygenius with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, both with whom she had toured previously. The group released three songs in August of that year and subsequently announced an EP and accompanying tour.  The EP, self-titled boygenius, was released on October 2018.

In 2020, Baker, alongside Boygenius bandmates Bridgers and Dacus, recorded background vocals for the Hayley Williams’ song “Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris” ahead of the release of Williams’ debut album, Petals for Armor.

“Sprained Ankle” (2015)

Julien Baker was a member of the band Forrister when she recorded a solo EP of songs that didn’t fit her band. Using her friend’s free studio time, she recorded demos, and she travelled to Richmond, Virginia, to record sparse versions of her songs. The songs were recorded quickly and released on Bandcamp as an EP – ‘Vessels’ and ‘Brittle Boned’ were added to the record later. While the arrangements are low-key, Baker’s songs often deal with big issues like addiction and faith. The stark sound works for Baker’s heartfelt songs, making them rawer and more poignant.

People quickly started to share the album, including a video version of her song, “Something” — shot in a Memphis parking garage by local filmmaker Breezy Lucia — but it wasn’t until Rhorer and 6131 contacted her about a record deal that she realized what was happening. On her new label’s advice, she took the record down from Bandcamp until it could be mastered and formally released.

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.

Sprained Ankle becomes more immersive the deeper it gets into the running list. Baker’s vocals take flight on ‘Rejoice’ – “I rejoice, and complain/I never know what to say/But I think there’s a god and he hears either way” is a great line. The keening electric guitar of ‘Vessels’ is a lovely accompaniment for Baker’s voice, while ‘Go Home’ is a cathartic closer, concluding with a piano version of modern hymn ‘In Christ Alone’. There’s great stuff at the start of the record too – the double-tracked vocals on tracks like ‘Good News’ are the only indication that these songs weren’t laid down in one sitting, while ‘Blacktop’ is typically confessional.

“Blacktop” the first track on her debut solo album, is a lonely song, maybe her loneliest, though it has some strong competition. When she asks, in the next verse, that some intervening divine, the same that saved her life, “come visit me in the back of an ambulance,” it is with the longing of something barely missed, rather than any certainty in her good fortune.

Sprained Ankle is a lovely debut, with Baker’s songs often immersive.

in 2016, Baker performed in an NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert, During that set she referenced a new song, “Sad Song #11”, which was later retitled “Funeral Pyre” and released as a single, with “Distant Solar Systems” as the b-side. Baker contributed the song “Decorated Lawns” to the Punk Talks winter compilation Jingle Yay, released in December.

Turn Out The Lights (2017)

Baker’s second album was recorded in a mere six days, with Baker handling most of the instruments, but it feels slick after the rawness of “Sprained Ankle”. There’s still no rhythm section, but Baker adds touches of violin, clarinet, and saxophone. It lacks the lo-fi intensity of Sprained Ankle, and the songs are less memorable, but it’s still a worthy follow-up.

With Turn Out the Lights, Baker returns to a much bigger stage, but with the same core of breath-taking vulnerability and resilience. From its opening moments  when her chiming, evocative melody is accompanied by swells of strings  “Turn Out the Lights” throws open the doors to the world without sacrificing the intimacy that has become a hallmark of her songs. This evolution from ‘Sprained Ankle’s intentionally spare production allows Baker — who is still the album’s sole producer and writer — greater scope and freedom. Strings and woodwinds now shade the corners of her compositions, and Baker takes to piano rather than guitar on several tracks, pushing the 21-yearold Baker’s work to cinematic heights of intensity.

Julien Baker releases her highly anticipated second album Turn Out The Lights via Matador Records. The album arrives nearly two years to the day after Baker’s debut LP, Sprained Ankle, which was widely acclaimed by outlets including The New York Times, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Noisey, and MOJO, among others. Recorded at the legendary Ardent Studios in Baker’s hometown of Memphis, TN, Turn Out The Lights expands upon the sound and vision of Sprained Ankle while retaining the haunting, confessional song writing style for which she has become known. Throughout the album, Baker reflects on experiences of her own and those closest to her, exploring the internal conflicts that wrestle inside us all: how we deal and cope with our struggles, and how it all impacts both ourselves and our relationships of all kinds. The result is a deeply empathetic album that embraces the greys and complex truths of humanity and mental health. Turn Out The Lights was written and produced by Baker. 

The moment that comes closest to recapturing the intensity of Sprained Ankle is ‘Sour Breath’, with Baker screaming “The harder I swim, the faster I sink”. ‘Sour Breath’ is nestled between other lovely songs like ‘Appointments’ and the sparse piano of ‘Televangelist’ – Baker also plays organ on the latter. The second half is less memorable than the first, but ‘Hurt Less’ is lovely.

Turn Out The Lights suffers from sequel-itis a little, but it’s a fine record on its own terms.

Julien baker   red door halloween

Red Door (2019)

On the heels of her triumphant Matador debut Turn Out The Lights and the critically acclaimed collaborative EP ‘boygenius’, Julien Baker returns with her first new solo recordings in 18 months, “Red Door / Conversation Piece”, available exclusively for Record Store Day 2019. The 7”vinyl features the first studio recording of a fan favourite Red Door, previously only heard live, and a previously unreleased cut begun during the Turn Out The Lights sessions,  7″ – Limited Red Vinyl only.

Little Oblivions (2021)

With a new album, Little Oblivions, about to drop on Matador on February 26th, Julien Baker is surfacing more and more these days. It’s good to have her back. The Memphis native has gone from success to success simply by sticking to her unique blend of the cathartic confessional, from the intimate to the dramatic. Though her voice has always powerfully navigated both whispers and roaring melodies, it seems she’s grown into her range even more as the years have gone by. That was especially in evidence last night, when she led her band through “Faith Healer,” the album’s first single, on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

Baker’s third album is due in late February 2021, and it looks like it will include a rhythm section. “Little Oblivions” will be the third studio album by Julien Baker. Recorded in Memphis, TN, the record weaves together unflinching autobiography with assimilated experience and hard-won observations from the past few years, taking Baker’s capacity for storytelling to new heights. It also marks a sonic shift, with the songwriter’s intimate piano and guitar arrangements newly enriched by bass, drums, keyboards, banjo, and mandolin with nearly all of the instruments performed by Baker. “Faith Healer” was released in October, and portends a more ambitious approach to production than Turn Out the Lights. While that album filled in her sound more than her debut, it was still rather minimalist, for the most part. Now Baker brings us the sound of a rock band, albeit one still laced with all the introspection of her previous work. 

Upon the release of “Faith Healer,” the artist released this statement: 
Put most simply, I think that ‘Faith Healer’ is a song about vices, both the obvious and the more insidious ways that they show up in the human experience. I started writing this song 2 years ago and it began as a very literal examination of addiction. For awhile, I only had the first verse, which is just a really candid confrontation of the cognitive dissonance a person who struggles with substance abuse can feel— the overwhelming evidence that this substance is harming you, and the counterintuitive but very real craving for the relief it provides. When I revisited the song I started thinking about the parallels between the escapism of substance abuse and the other various means of escapism that had occupied a similar, if less easily identifiable, space in my psyche.

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On the heels of her triumphant Matador Records debut Turn Out the Lights and the critically acclaimed collaborative EP boygenius, JulienBaker returns with her first new solo recordings in 18 months, “Red Door” b/w “Conversation Piece,” available exclusively for Record Store Day 2019. The 7″ features the first studio recording of a fan favorite “Red Door”, previously only heard live, and a previously unreleased cut begun during the Turn Out the Lights sessions, “Red Door” is a lush and atmospheric track driven by Baker’s complex fingerpicking and a hint of slide guitar, her voice soaring as she pleads “set me on fire in the middle of the street / bend my knees, paint the concrete / the color of my bloody knuckles / pulling splinters form the chapel door.” A previously unreleased cut begun during the Turn Out the Lights sessions, Its flip side “Conversation Piece” is a meditation on loneliness, backed by delicate percussion and chiming guitars.

“Conversation Piece.” Julien Baker’ s Turn Out the Lights received glowing reviews across international press outlets and continues to sell steadily, nearing 40k equivalent albums in the U.S. boygenius’ s/t EP has reached 14k scans in its first three months on sale.

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”

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.

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

With Turn Out The Lights, 21-year-old Julien Baker returns to a much bigger stage, but with the same core of breathtaking vulnerability and resilience. From its opening moments her chiming, evocative melody is accompanied by swells of strings —Turn Out The Lights throws open the doors to the world without sacrificing the intimacy that has become a hallmark of her songs. The album explores how people live and come to terms with their internal conflict, and the alternately shattering and redemptive ways these struggles playout in relationships. Baker casts an unflinching and accepting eye on the duality of –and contradictions in –the human experience, at times evenfinding humor and joy in the midst of suffering. She ultimately calls on her listeners to move beyond “good” and “bad,” or “happy” and “sad,” to embrace more complex truths.

The album was recorded at the legendary Ardent Studios in her hometown of Memphis, TN, and mixed by Craig Silvey (The National, Florence & the Machine, Arcade Fire). This evolution from her previous album Sprained Ankle’ intentionally sparse production allowed greater scope and freedom for Baker,who is still the album’s sole writer and producer. Strings and woodwinds now shade the corners of her compositions, and Baker takes to piano rather than guitar on several tracks. In songs like the epic “Claws In Your Back,” these new textures push Baker’s work to cinematic heights of intensity.

As always, the real draw is her songwriting and lyricism. Turn Out The Lights is more expansive in sound and vision than Sprained Ankle and illustrates significant growth, yet the album retains the haunting delicacy of her heart breakingly confessional style. Where her debut focused inward on Baker’s life and aspects of her identity, Turn Out The Lights reflects on not only her own experiences, but also the experiences of those closest to her.

The album is book ended by “Appointments” and “Claws in Your Back,” two songs that deal with the precarious balance between nihilism and realism. “A lot of stuff happened in my life that was rapid change, and it felt like it could not get any worse,” Baker says of “Appointments.” “I was like, I have reached critical mass for this amoeba of sadness and it cannot possibly turn out all right. But for the sake of my continuing to exist, I have to believe that it will.”

The resulting song (“I think if I ruin this, then I know I can live with it,” Baker sings) cuts to the core of Baker’s uniquely clear-eyedtake on human suffering.  On “Claws In Your Back,” she turns her own hard-won determination to thrive into a rallying cry for her friends(“I think I can love the sickness you made. I take it all back, I change my mind.I wanted to stay”).


Even as Turn Out The Lights explores broken relationships (“Sour Breath”), the search for a cure that may not exist (“Everything To Help You Sleep”), and the impossibility of ever truly understanding each other (“Shadowboxing”), Baker continually returns to the possibility of joy. “I don’t believe in the ‘fixing’ part, where what healing means is that you no longer get sad or experience grief or have panic attacks,” Baker says. “Happy is kind of a fleeting and transient emotion. It is not a destination that you can get to by exerting enough mental effort. I believe that joy is something that you can invite into your present circumstance. Whereas happiness seems to be this horizon that’s eternally getting further from you, joy is something that you can inhabit.”

It’s this call to joy even in moments of otherwise total darkness that makes her music a refuge for her fans. Turn Out The Lights is ultimately a healing experience, and it’s impossible not to feel Baker’s unyielding compassion for the messy and beautiful human experience. “When I talk about things in myself I find ugly and unlovable, they are the most effective tools for connecting with other people, for helping other people heal,” she says. “And that helps me heal.”

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

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After blowing us away with the release of Sprained Ankle, her debut full-length in 2015, singer Julien Baker is back with a follow-up called Turn Out The LightsThe first single, “Appointments,” is an inward-looking meditation on disappointment and doubt in the wake of a failed relationship. Turn Out The Lights is due out October. 27th on Matador Records.

Those of us who fell in love with her debut album, Sprained Ankle, have been hungering for more of Miss Baker’s sparse, confessional songs — brutally honest and cripplingly insecure, self-deprecating but laced with just enough hope to keep you hanging on — since the album’s 2015 release (only briefly sated by the release of “Funeral Pyre,” a one-off single, in January).


Baker is back with “Appointments,” the moving first single from her upcoming sophomore album, Turn Out The Lights. It gently treads over well-worn ground for Baker: hopefulness and hopelessness, mental health, emotional estrangement. The song is suspiciously optimistic, in Baker’s way: “Maybe it’s all going to turn out alright / And I know that it’s not / But I have to believe that it is,” she cries out over piano and twinkly guitars in the song’s climax.

This quiet compassion undergirds Baker’s music and allows her to write songs that are incredibly sad, without ever becoming maudlin or overwrought. You can trace hints of its source in Baker’s frequent invocation of the divine, and her deep faith in the holy sound of rock ‘n’ roll; regardless, it makes both her self-loathing and her moments of stability infinitely believable. “Appointments” is this way, too; it’s rooted in pain and the fear of failure, but it sounds like driving late at night, trying to convince yourself — and maybe whoever else is listening — that the small steps towards healing are worth it.

Turn Out The Lights will be Baker’s first album for Matador Records.

Clear vinyl w/ Purple and Pink Splatter