Nashville, admittedly, over the past few decades, has stolen most of the musical thunder from it’s neighboring cities in the south (all of which, keeping in mind, boast similar laundry lists of Rock’N’Roll and Blues success that would make even the biggest music nerd blush).
However, attention is once again emphasized on the same city that gave Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Louis, and Johnny Cash their “big breaks”(to name just a very few)— While the late Sam Phillips is no longer spearheading the infamous Sun Studios, and STAX Records has been defunct for over forty years now—fear not!— for, super sentimental songstress Julien Baker does her city real, real proud. How you goin’ Memphis?
Consequently, the Memphis-native announced some definitive awesomeness this week: Julien Baker just signed to the same indie label that wildly successful, alternative groups such as Belle and Sebastian, Yo La Tengo, and Kurt Vile all call home too: New York City’s Matador Records.
The news shouldn’t be too much of surprise for those who follow the southern bohemian. The recording artist’s 2015 release of Sprained Ankle garnered vasts amount of critical success from independent music publications around the country since. The industry has kept their ears peeled and their eyes open in anticipation for Julien Baker’s crossover from indie princess to main-stage stronghold.
Stereogum adds, “The storied NYC indie label has signed Baker and will reissue the album this St. Patrick’s Day for territories outside the US and Australia. That same day, Matador is also releasing a new 7″ featuring the studio version of “Funeral Pyre,” a song Baker has been playing live for a while. The single will feature ‘Distant Solar System’ as a B-side.”
“Funeral Pyre” like previous tracks from the artist’s small catalog is inherently honest, soft, yet pushing at something most try to keep below the surface in fear of being exposed…or rather vulnerable. Baker’s success, thus far, lies in her abilities to maintain a sincerity in her music, without forcing her voice to be heard until it’s message is completely sounded out. Nothing is rushed, everything is in conflict. Parts of “Funeral Pyre” feel like the worst parts of High School, the moments of sheer failure and hurt you promise yourself you ‘ll never let yourself feel again…mixed with the uncontrollable highs that came in between all of those confused emotions.
Hear “Funeral Pyre” below, and be prepared to float a little ways back in time, all for the better, of course.