Individually Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus have different styles and approaches, and yet they’ve been lumped together – perhaps because it’s easy to do so, and also because, well, they’re females with guitars. Easy, yes? Them coming together as boygenius – and releasing an EP of the same name, accompanying a tour – both pokes at that notion, and disrupts it. On paper, the collaboration both makes sense on paper and raises curiosity; while listening, it all comes together. It’s interesting how none of the three lose their individual approaches even if coming together in song, although on the six-track EP some tracks are clearly more lead by one – “Bite the Hand” has Lucy’s guitar work all over, while “Me & My Dog” has Phoebe’s intimacy. Julien’s even more intimate tendencies act as a force pushing and pulling through all the tracks. And yet none of the tracks have a feel of too many cooks in the kitchen. boygenius is clearly one entity, and yet it flies in the face of easy categorization. How much more if we get a full album? [NB] | 4/5
We’ve had our ear on Nikki Nava since last year, when we included her in a Local Outsider column. We’ve always liked how she does so much with what seems to be little. That’s on full display with the release of her first proper single, “Secrets”, and with more new stuff on the way, we asked her to tell us the five songs she can’t live without. Warning: there are some surprises on her list.
Turn Out The Lights is disappointing. Yes, that is supposed to grab your attention, and yes, it does not mean what you think it means. Julien Baker’s second solo outing has an undercurrent of disappointment running through it – and across the 45 minutes or so of the album she grapples with knowing that she isn’t doing the best she can do, and hoping for forgiveness, if not absolution. No, Turn Out The Lights is not a sad record – there always seems to be a way out in every track, but as you progress you seem to sink deeper, until Julien finally lets out on album closer “Claws On Your Back”. It’s not easy. But the layers are riveting, and the visceral tone she takes as she moves forward keeps you hooked, even if sometimes you’re not sure if you should really be in the room to listen to her bare her soul. I felt that intensity. “Wait, she is now talking to her god, right? Am I now just butting in?” Not really, which makes exiting this album a little bit cathartic, even. Julien has submitted a corker here. [NB] | 4/5