Julien Baker's "Sprained Ankle" is painfully honest and wholesomely atmospheric
Julien Baker’s sophomore release originated from an organic place, a place in which somebody told Julien she had a unique, intangible, quality that was not yet fully realised. In my research for this piece, I poured through the multitude of interviews online, and in the interviews that I have watched, one thing remains clear. Baker seems to be in complete disbelief that anyone would want to consume anything she has produced, garnishing everyone who does with complete awe. Baker may have to start acclimating, as it is becoming overwhelmingly evident that her insecurities are mostly unfounded.
Painfully honest and wholesomely atmospheric, Sprained Ankle ebbs and flows like a teenage diatribe, genuinely emotional, fundamentally lonely and painfully raw. At her most vulnerable, Julien feels like a friend you care for dearly, spilling her insecurities out to you, while you can only sit back and listen, vastly ill-equipped to be dealing with the anecdotes being thrown at you. Substance abuse is a constant theme throughout Sprained Ankle, although it doesn’t seem to be of the debilitating nature, more-so one of necessity, one to get you through the tough times, times that Baker has clearly needed to deal with. However, while these themes are anecdotally dealt with, there seems to be somewhat of a mature reflection that flows throughout these delicate moments.
Baker’s songs play out like that of a lonely, starved artist, who brought the skeletons of song structure to band practice, to the pursed lips of her fellow band mates. With that being said, a further development of Baker’s canticles would only serve to tarnish simplicity, as the most jarring moments of Sprained Ankle resides in the disparity between chords. Bright, glassy reverb elevates tracks such as “Something” and “Sprained Ankle” to ethereal levels, while the piano-lead harmonies of “Go Home”, not the mention the visceral cries at the end of the track, offer a welcome, crushing, juxtaposition.
The fundamentally exquisite musings of Julien were born out of the vast proximity between herself and her loved ones, using the nuances of songwriting to help her feel closer to home, uploading her songs to media distribution websites such as Bandcamp. I can only assume that the juxtaposition in propinquity drove inherently melancholic songs to be that much sadder, especially considering the isolation these one-take-tracks were recorded in.
When refuting my infatuation for Baker’s music, my go-to explanation is as such; ultimately, we are all Julien Baker. We’ve all found ourselves in the unfamiliar abodes of fleeting lovers, battling feelings of inadequacies at 3am, we’ve all found ourselves on an alcohol-fuelled journey home feeling sorry for ourselves, and we’ve all had some level of existential crisis, primarily fuelled by self-pity. Fortunately, Julien Baker has the common decency to put melody to the melodrama and substantiate emotional trauma. End of the day, we’re all marathon runners that have had to overcome a couple of sprained ankles.
In Transformers: The Last Knight, the freak show has been toned down; there's precious little human bile forced down your throat this go around. Heck, there's even some attempts at respectability. Which is boring and nullifies the series' proudly nihilistic juvenile identity.
With a fervent belief that true commitment to bad-taste transforms it into something fashionable, fun and infectious, Kirin is a lot to take in.
Slowdive know how to play to their strengths, pulling from the best moments of their discography to present us with something that is at once familiar and refreshing.
I couldn’t think of anything more terrifying than playing a delicate set of acoustic jazzy music to room full of mostly black overcoat-clad, chin stroking, forty-something, ultra-discerning listeners. But for The Necks, that is the thesis for their completely improvised performances.
The Exes share a deep passion for vocal harmonies and heartbreakingly good songwriting. This killer combination has crystallised itself on their new album When We Fall. We caught up with the Exes ahead of their two gigs at Babushka and Fly By Night this weekend.
We caught up with Sydney singer-songwriter Montaigne to chat about making positive change, video games, life, death, and spirituality. Have a read, then do yourself a favour and purchase tickets for her performance at Capitol on the 29th of July.
From humble beginnings to a hefty, sold-out national tour, Winston Surfshirt has certainly transcended the mediocrities of the urban music scene and reminded us all what a little funk and R&B can do for the soul.
So, it's awful.
Will Wagner and the Smithies appeared every part bonafide rockstars on Friday night, with plenty of good songs and good vibes.
Black Swan State Theatre Company’s exciting run (and WA premiere) of beloved American-Australian playwright Lally Katz’s work The Eisteddfod is just around the corner, opening at the end of this month and directed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler. We took the opportunity to have a chat the genius behind the script herself about growing older, writing, the play and WA.