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Julien Baker contemplates enormity of the universe in new song, “Distant Solar Systems”

julien baker
Julien Baker | photo by Jake Cunningham | courtesy of the artist

Space and the universe and all that kind of freaks me out. So when I heard news about the NASA-discovered earth-like planets in the TRAPPIST-1 solar system, my reaction was a mix of total excitement and also ever-crippling fear and smallness.

 In Julien Baker‘s new song, the beautiful and haunting “Distant Solar Systems,”  she perfectly encapsulates this jumbled up feeling of wonder and awe and trepidation.  In the song — the b-side to her new single “Funeral Pyre,” released via new label Matador Records – Baker’s minimal instrumentation and clear, emotional vocals layer to create an ethereal, soothing tone. Keeping with the title, the song matches large, atmospheric sounds that sweep a vast empty space, with a feeling of fragile vulnerability. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Julien Baker at Underground Arts, Bardo Pond at Johnny Brenda’s, Corinne Bailey Rae at Union Transfer

julien baker
Julien Baker | photo by Jake Cunningham | courtesy of the artist

Julien Baker makes a return visit to Philadelphia for a show at Underground Arts tonight. The Memphis native brought her acclaimed Sprained Ankle debut to town earlier this year, wowing the audience with her gut wrenching but graceful songs about personal challenges and growth. Stream “Something” below and pick up tickets for the 21+ show with Grayling here.

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Just Announced: Julien Baker to headline Underground Arts on 9/13

julien baker
Julien Baker | photo by Jake Cunningham | courtesy of the artist

Memphis native Julien Baker will headline Underground Arts on Tuesday September 13th in support of her critically acclaimed 2015 debut Sprained Ankle. Philly’s Grayling (who we’re fans of here at The Key) will perform as the opening act. The show will mark Baker’s return to Philly after playing Boot & Saddle back in January. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Julien Baker at Boot & Saddle, Madalean Gauze at Kung Fu Necktie, Torres at Johnny Brenda’s and more…

julien baker
Julien Baker | photo by Jake Cunningham | courtesy of the artist

Memphis native Julien Baker brings her debut solo LP to Boot & Saddle tonight. K. Ross Hoffman explored Sprained Ankle for a Key profile last week, noting that that the songs are “harrowing stuff; an impressionistic but unflinching annal of addiction, self-loathing and spiritual crisis…” set up against “unadorned but graceful melodies and simple, minimal acoustic guitar and piano arrangements.” Listen to “Something” below and pick up tickets to the 21+ show with Abi Reimold here.

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Julien Baker pulls no punches on Sprained Ankle

Julien Baker | photo by Jake Cunningham | courtesy of the artist
Julien Baker | photo by Jake Cunningham | courtesy of the artist

The Sprained Ankle in the title of Julien Baker’s debut record happens to be purely metaphorical.  But that’s a rare and merciful exception among the litany of pain, both physical and psychological, that the Memphis-based songwriter catalogues across the album’s 34 minutes: from wrapping a car around a streetlamp to the jitters of withdrawal, to the wrenching agony of heartbreak, to the empty, gnawing tedium of days spent in a hospital bed.  It’s harrowing stuff; an impressionistic but unflinching annal of addiction, self-loathing and spiritual crisis – and perhaps all the more striking given Baker’s young age: she’s twenty now but was closer to eighteen when she wrote these songs. Continue reading →