Julien Baker

SAY YES! AN ELLIOTT SMITH TRIBUTE
October 25, 2016 9:49 am

It’s been thirteen long years since Elliott Smith took his own life on October 21st,e 2003. He battled demons a majority of his short life and his music brought so many people the harsh reality of that struggle into the words we could tangibly use to forget our own aches for a few moments, or for an entire album. In my opinion he is one of the most underrated geniuses in modern music.

A group of other musicians apparently felt the same way when they decided to get together and create a tribute album for Smith titled Say Yes! as released by American Laundromat Records. It features bands such as Yuck, Waxatachee and artists like J. Mascis and Julien Baker. A wide array of sludgy rock to intensely acoustic indie artists. I think my favorite from the album is the Yuck version of “Bled White, which is also an all time favorite Elliott song of mine.

I’ve personally covered one Smith song during a live performance “The Biggest Lie”. While I enjoyed singing my heart out, Elliott’s songs are a force to be reckoned with. A tantrum of eloquence and equally as dark currents raging inside of a drowning man. It’s nearly impossible to recreate the feelings Smith captured in his music.

Honestly, I was pretty giddy at first and while I wholeheartedly appreciate these artists showing their influence by Smith, it was almost a little hard to hear the songs without Elliott. The fact that 13 years after I find him, he is no longer putting out new material is a heart wrenching realization for me. There just isn’t a way for other artists to recreate something so personal, and the despair he felt daily triggered the wild agony in his songs. These things made them what they are, and it is a travesty to deny that.

However, these songs are a tribute and we can not look into them as if Elliott is there, but more so that he was inspiration to them.

Songs you can find on this album include but are not limited to, “Waltz #2 done by J. Mascis, “Easy way out” done by Wild Sun, and “Division Day done by Lou Barlow. Yuck’s upbeat version of “Bled White” got me pretty pumped up for the album as the first song I heard with its punchy drums and rock version of a song always adored. In J. Mascis’ version of Waltz #2, he seemingly chose specific parts of the song to use, and it’s very eerily pasted together with slow vocals and droning guitar and drums, at first I wasn’t even sure it was the same song.

We may have lost a very valuable and pivotal force in indie, acoustic and rock and roll music thirteen years ago, but his music transcends time and is not fleeting by any means of the word. Elliott had an unwavering ability to create classic music that would punch you in the gut every time you listen. There is no simplicity, paper thin vocals, shuttering harmonies, both clean and distorted guitar riffs in all the right places, so much Beatles influence you’ll be humming “The Two of Us” or “Helter Skelter” without even knowing why after checking out Figure 8 or From a Basement on a Hill.

Take a listen to this new tribute album, and if you haven’t yet listen to Elliott’s albums front to back in memory of 13 years without him in the physical realm, go and do that too. He’s always here in the musical realm, hats off to you Elliott Smith.

 

JULIEN BAKER TURNS PHILLY INTO THE QUIETEST CITY
September 21, 2016 11:09 am

It’s no secret that ATYPICAL SOUNDS loves Julien Baker. She was our November Artist of the Month last year, so when I found out she was playing at Underground Arts in Philly I knew I had to be there.

The two show line-up was Tennessee-based Baker and Philly’s Grayling. As much as I don’t want to admit it for the sake of losing “punk cred,” two show lineups are sick. You get to go see some bands, feel some feels and still not be too tired for the next morning (I was still late for class but that’s just because of who I am as a person).

Grayling came on around 8:30 and played about a 7 song set that shows me that this band is here to stay. They are pretty badass and if you haven’t checked them out you need to do so ASAP. They will make you feel badass too.

Julien Baker started playing around 9:30 and while her set was only about an hour, for that one hour the small venue on 1200 Callowhill, was the quietest place in all of the city. Baker played songs of her record Sprained Ankle, which is a powerful testament to love, heartbreak and realization. It was just Baker and her guitar on the stage with one spotlight that made the singer look like an angel. Just like on her record, her voice quieted down and then tore through the quiet, each time taking the crowd with it.

There was not a dry eye in Underground Arts, I can guarantee it.

MOVE WITH THE SEASON: FALL PLAYLIST
September 19, 2016 10:08 am

Oh  Fall, some love you, some hate you. The days grow colder and the sun sets earlier as a subtle reminder that WINTER IS COMING. This pumpkin flavored playlist (because what honestly isn’t pumpkin flavored right now) has got all the ups and downs of Fall feels.

Some slow songs to ease you into the dark cold (Morrissey), some upbeat songs to keep you moving with the seasons and doses of nostalgia (oh yeah, Hot Chip cover of Bruce’s Dancing In The Dark).

This playlist has everything including lots of awesome bands with shows coming up in New York you don’t want to miss. There are songs to get stoned to, songs to dance to, songs to mope to, songs to leave the basic bitch uggs and pumpkin spice everything behind for some stranger things…something atypical.

“When the time comes move with the season, lend your young ear to the sound of day.” –TEMPLES

 

ARTIST OF THE MONTH:  JULIEN BAKER
November 10, 2015 4:25 am

The first time I heard Julien Baker, it felt like someone ripped my heart out of my chest.

“I rejoice and complain.  Lift my voice.”

Her words are like a tiny knife across your heart and before you know it, Sprainked Ankle is telling too many stories that resonate with you and your broken soul.

Julien hails from Murfreesboro, Tennessee where she played in the Memphis based band, Forrister.

Baker finds herself in good company when she declares, “Wish I could write songs about anything other than death.”  Death, love, heart break, despair, awakenings, God, these are all things that Julien Baker touches on in her songs and in a way it makes you feel a little less alone.

This record possesses all of the things that I love musically rolled into one.  Elements of Folk, Country, Soul, Gospel all combined  with her haunting lyrics create songs that are filled with pain and beauty. Her voice at times fades and then soars with a chilling raspiness on moments that you would least expect it.  Each song becomes an unexpected emotional journey.

“I can’t think of anyone, anyone else,” she howls on “Something,” and I believe every word of it.

“I just left the park, you like swallowed me up
Choking you times, and kicking up dust
Asking aloud why you’re leaving
But the pavement won’t answer me
I just let the silence swallow me up
The ring in my ears tastes like blood
Asking aloud why you’re leaving
But the pavement won’t answer me”.

Julien Baker

I can’t wait to see what is next for this powerful lady. Regardless of where her music goes from here, this record is a testimony to Julien Baker’s artistry and talent.

Sprained Ankle is out now on 6131 Records.