Now Hear This is a daily dive into the standout songs of the day. Today, Julien Baker decides what she'll save: her love or herself, Toronto post-punks Century Palm shake out of a rut, and The New Pornographer's Todd Fancey does '70s cheese.
Julien Baker, "Funeral Pyre"
Twenty-one-year-old, Memphis-based singer/songwriter Julien Baker introduced "Funeral Pyre" during a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR self-mockingly as "Sad Song 11." In her short time, she's developed regard as a somber poet, particularly gifted in expressing the more sullen shades, lending them quivering, tear-stained flesh. "Funeral Pyre," her first song since signing to Matador, is exemplary, building high-realist emotional tension: her partner's self-destruction threatens to destroy them both. She's caught between staying to help someone she loves and saving herself. It contains both hope and hopelessness. - Chris Hampton
Julien Baker's "Funeral Pyre" 7-inch is out March 17 on Matador Records.
Century Palm, "King of John Street"
The big city is an anonymizing theatre. Its incredible power to diminish the individual can do a number, spiritually-speaking, on newcomers. Such is the theme of "King of John Street" by Toronto post-punks Century Palm.
"After moving to Toronto from a smaller music scene in Alberta," bassist and vocalist Paul Lawton told Stereogum, "I walked up and down John Street every day for a couple years, under the CN tower, feeling completely isolated and anonymous, and kind of giving up on myself for a bit. This song is about trying to shake out of a very specific kind of rut in a big city, and coming to terms with how small you are in comparison."
Lawton's downcast pose is lifted heavenward by chorale voices and organ-ish synths — a church service on urban ennui from disciples of The Chameleons, Magazine, The Sound, and other such survivors of Manchester and London. - Chris Hampton
Century Palm's Meet You is out March 10 on Deranged Records.
Fancey, "Baby Sunshine"
Founding New Pornographers member Todd Fancey introduces his third solo album with "Baby Sunshine," a feel-good and totally cheeseball bit of '70s throwback AM radio pop. The artwork is stripped from The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the track resembles the era's theme music. It's comforting and restorative like tomato soup, a blanket, and an afternoon of reruns when you'd have to stay home sick from school. - Chris Hampton