Posted in Music

Little Oblivions – Julien Baker album review

Julien Baker → Little Oblivions

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles! I suppose this isn’t a bookish post, but I’ll keep my normal greeting, because hey, most of what I post is about books. But here’s something a little different.

So here I am, finally reviewing Little Oblivions!

I got into Julien Baker late last year, starting with Sprained Ankle after hearing her distinct voice as part of the supergroup boygenius (with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus). I was immediately hooked on Sprained Ankle, liked but didn’t love Turn Out the Light (Sprained Ankle > Turn Out the Lights, fight me Pitchfork), and so of course I was excited to see that she was coming out with something new. What stands out most to me about her music is the raw emotion of it; Baker never hesitates to explore the darker side of everything, and does so with such intense, palpable motion. Even with just a guitar or a piano, she can make a shrieking ballad of grief or heartbreak out of anything.

And I’m glad to say Little Oblivions is no exception. While Baker experiments with bigger, brighter sound, she stays true to the emotional aspect that defines her body of work, making a whole new set of resonant and soaring music.

So let’s begin this review, shall we?

Julien Baker is a queer, Christian, socialist — we had to talk to her by  Religion and Socialism Podcast

JULIEN BAKER LITTLE OBLIVIONS (album review)

TRACK 1: “Hardline” – 9/10

Say it’s not so cut and dry,

Oh, it isn’t black and white,

What if it’s all black, baby,

All the time?

– Julien Baker, “Hardline”

NOW THIS IS WHAT I CALL AN AMAZING OPENING TRACK! Baker’s foray into new, more electronic sound proves an immediate hit, paired with her signature raw lyricism. Plus, we’ve got an amazing stop-motion music video to match!

TRACK 2: “Heatwave” – 7.5/10

The last single to be released before the whole album, “Heatwave” is reminiscent of the boygenius EP. There’s a deceptively upbeat tone and composition to it, hiding some of Baker’s darkest lyrics. The instrumentation almost reminds me of Wilco.

TRACK 3: “Faith Healer” – 9/10

This one was the first single to be released before the whole album, and it has been a consistent earworm for MONTHS, let me tell you…

Such beautiful, concise instrumentation, a steady beat, and even the effects overlaid over Baker’s unique voice fit right in with the almost spacey keyboards. A completely new direction for her musically, but one I’m ADORING.

Wooohoooo!!! — Marvel Contest of Champions

TRACK 4: “Relative Fiction” – 9/10

‘Cause I don’t need a savior,

I need you to take me home…

– Julien Baker, “Relative Fiction”

It would be a bit of a stretch to call this a love song, but that’s almost how I interpreted it on the first listen. “Relative Fiction” delves into Baker’s quieter, more musically sparse roots for a tender and poignant song of grappling with emotions and questioning one’s own self worth, and the meaning one might hold for others.

TRACK 5: “Crying Wolf” – 7.5/10

Continuing “Relative Fiction”‘s trend of quieter and sadder introspection, “Crying Wolf” presents a piano ballad reminiscent of Turn Out the Lights that soars to a resonant conclusion. (That “OOOOOO” that starts at about 2:33…[CRIES])

TRACK 6: “Bloodshot” – 7/10

There’s no glory in love,

Only the gore of our hearts…

– Julien Baker, “Bloodshot”

The song where we get the album cover’s gorgeous lyricism, “Bloodshot” toes the line between the two musical themes of Little Oblivions so far, oscillating between the electronic experimentation and the sparser, quieter ballads. Another deceptively upbeat song, telling of messy emotions and shaky relationships.

TRACK 7: “Ringside” – 6.5/10

I still enjoy this one, that’s for sure, but it felt a little bit like a lull in the middle. The lyricism is still stellar, but something about it doesn’t pack as much of a punch as the rest of the album so far has.

TRACK 8: “Favor” – 8.5/10

You pulled a moth out

From the grill of your truck,

Saying it’s a shame,

How come it’s so much easier

With anything less than human,

Letting yourself be tender?

– Julien Baker, “Favor”

As with “Graceland Too” on Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher, this boygenius collaboration truly shines. The combination of the voices of Baker, Bridgers and Dacus never fails to make my heart soar to the clouds, and paired with such poignant lyrics, “Favor” is absolutely a highlight of this album.

TRACK 9: “Song in E” – 10/10

My favorite song on the album, hands down. This one again harkens back to Turn Out the Lights, but something about both the piano and Julien’s vocals takes it to all new heights. It’s just…[sniffles]

And something about the way she says “name” at about 0:40 just makes my heart go 🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺

TRACK 10: “Repeat” – 9/10

Ocean of strip malls,

I help you swim across

To the other side…

– Julien Baker, “Repeat”

Another example of Julien’s decision to go more electronic with her sound paying off 100%. Catchy, but continually poetic in its lyricism, this was one of my favorite songs that wasn’t released as a single before the album’s released. Again, can’t put my finger on it, but I love the way Baker sings all of the words past the 3/4 mark with the long ‘e’ sound (ex. means, speak, street, dream, repeat). My brain can’t be troubled for a concrete reason, but it’s so beautiful.

TRACK 11: “Highlight Reel” – 7.5/10

Not my favorite on the album, but the instrumentation itself is what shines for me. I love the drums, the guitar, the…well, the everything. I can’t quite pick out what instrument (probably keyboard?) it is, but the part from about 3:21 to the end reminds me a bit of St. Vincent’s “Teenage Talk.”

TRACK 12: “Ziptie” – 6.5/10

Not the best ending for this album and a lower point overall, but still lovely. The lyricism is still painfully beautiful, but it just seems to wander about almost aimlessly. A good listen, but maybe something like “Repeat” or “Bloodshot” would have been a better end to the album.

Julien Baker is just being honest | EW.com

I averaged out all of the scores for each track, and they came out to almost exactly 8! I’d say that’s accurate; Little Oblivions wasn’t without its occasional low points, but even those were songs that I’ll surely come back to. A stellar album, and a bold new direction that payed off with every song.

And even though this wasn’t on the album, I can’t not talk about this…

I–

I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. This is a transcendental cover. And hey, Julien Baker and Radiohead: two of my favorite things.

Since this post is full of songs, consider this whole album today’s song.

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

January 2021 Wrap-Up ðŸŒ¨

Hi again, bibliophiles!

I figured this year that monthly wrap-ups would be a fun way to track my reading progress. This is my first stab at it, so we’ll see how it goes…

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

Screaming Thom Yorke GIF | Gfycat

January was…an interesting month? Definitely had its ups and downs, I’d say. The school year started out super stressful and overwhelming, and I had to take a week and a half off blogging. But after getting over that initial hump, the workload started to get more manageable, and it’s stayed that way, for the most part, knock on wood.

As far as writing goes, I finished the initial edits on my first draft of the sci-fi WIP I’ve been steadily chipping away at since November 2019 (or thereabouts). I’ve now started outlining it before moving onto draft two; the filler chapters…why did I write so many filler chapters…

Reaction Gif

I found a lot of good music though! I’ve been listening to loads of Julien Baker lately (I can’t wait for the new album in February!), and I thoroughly enjoyed getting into the scores for Fargo and Legion. I just got into Lucy Dacus too, and No Burden was a good album, for the most part.

And it’s generally just a relief to have Joe Biden in office. Hey, he’s not perfect, but it’s quite a nice change to not have to worry about my basic human rights being taken away on the daily. 🙂

READING AND BLOGGING

My Goodreads challenge is for 250 books at present (I lowered it in anticipation of schoolwork), and I read 20 books in January! (Not counting a few single-issue comics.) This is the first year where I’ve been paying attention to how many books I’ve actually read in a month, so it’ll be interesting to see how my progress waxes and/or wanes.

So without further ado, here’s everything…

2 – 2.75 stars:

Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather: 9780553539547 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books
Haunting the Deep

3 – 3.75 stars:

The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2) by Roshani Chokshi
The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)

4 – 4.75 stars:

I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
I’m Thinking of Ending Things

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH: Zero Repeat Forever – 4.75 stars, rounded up to 5

Amazon.com: Zero Repeat Forever (1) (The Nahx Invasions) (9781481481854):  Prendergast, G. S.: Books

I’m too lazy to list every single post that I’ve made this month (and I think that it’d be rather tedious to go through, anyway), so here are some of my highlights.

SOME POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS I ENJOYED FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE:

I Believe In You All GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

GOALS FOR FEBRUARY:

Film Animated GIF | Beetlejuice movie, Beetlejuice, Michael keaton  beetlejuice
  • Read more books by Black authors for Black history month! (And make a post about it!)
  • Listen to & review Little Oblivions (Julien Baker) when it comes out!
  • Read at least 20 books
  • Finish my initial outline for my sci-fi WIP?

Since I already posted today, check out today’s weekly update for today’s song.

And that wraps up my January! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (1/25/21)–Gearbreakers

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

This one has only been on my TBR for a little over a month, but it sounds like a refreshing and original addition to the world of YA dystopia! Plus, I’ll read anything with a sapphic romance…

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (1/25/21)–GEARBREAKERS by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Amazon.com: Gearbreakers (9781250269508): Mikuta, Zoe Hana: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead…

The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.

Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.

As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer–as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…

So why do I want to read this?

Spiderman Homecoming - FUI Design — HUDS+GUIS

First off, let me just say…I LOVE that “we went past praying to deities and started to build them instead” line! Grimly poetic, in a way.

I usually don’t readily jump for dystopia these days, since I’ve gotten so jaded from how formulaic it’s gotten in the YA genre in the past decade or so. But this…this sounds incredibly original! Cyborgs, giant mechs, and a WLW ROMANCE? Of course you have my attention! I’m getting some Skyhunter vibes too…[tightly crosses fingers]

Also, whoever made this cover deserves a raise. The art style, the color scheme, the lighting, the…everything…

Gearbreakers comes out this June, so I’ll see you all then!

Starwarsedit jyn erso rogue one GIF - Find on GIFER

Today’s song:

OK THE GUITAR IN THIS SONG–

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!