Julien Baker of boygenius joins us in discussing songs that lift our spirits.


Q: What’s a song that always cheers you up and why?


Julien Bakerboygenius
A: “Fly Me to the Moon.” This song is a cultural touchstone that seems incredibly timeless, and the sentiment is simple and pure. It’s a straightforward declaration that celebrates love in an uncontrived, very wholesome way. It’s one of the only times I would use “old-fashioned” with a positive connotation. The melody is also addictive. I started using this song to warm up my voice before shows because I was too embarrassed to do real warm-ups. It’s such a well known standard that it’s unpretentious and disarming; it doesn’t feel performative or like an exhibition of formal technique, which I think makes it fun.

Current obsession: The Excess by Old Blood Noise Endeavors. It’s a distortion that you can run series or parallel. That is, you can manipulate the wet/dry of the distorted signal, and you can also use one of the mod settings to mess around with the spacing of the harmonics it creates, which ends up varying from just a fuzzy wash to a twinkly POG-delay sort of sound. It’s one of the most versatile pedals on my board and I’ve been using it for everything on this recent tour.

Watch her demonstrate its powers in her Rig Rundown:


Skully LawrenceReader of the Month
A: Not a song, but just pick up a ukulele, and I dare you not to smile.

 

Current obsession: My current musical obsession is taking classic rock songs and turning them into ukulele songs. I’m working on some Pink Floyd songs, too.


Tessa JeffersManaging Editor
A: “Wow” by Beck. For me, it’s about downplaying existential nonsense and turning worries into light energy. Things get rough but just giddy up, giddy up, snap out of it, get funky, and get into your own groove. Life flashes by in an instant, so ride the waves. As the wise man in the track says, “It’s my life, your life, live it once, can’t live it twice.”

Current obsession: Since discovering 19-year-old drummer Sina Doering on YouTube, I’ve been watching all her covers. Tool’s “Forty Six & 2” might be my favorite. She’s incredible. I’m also currently and continually obsessed with Freddie Mercury’s voice.


Meghan MolumbyArt Director
A: “The Night Begins to Shine” by B.E.R. It’s an utterly goofy ’80’s synth-rock tune originally written for an in-house music library and featured in the cartoon series Teen Titans Go! The obscure earworm snuck onto the Billboard rock charts in 2017, and my 5-year old son became obsessed. Whenever I hear it, I think of him and can’t help but smile.

Current obsession: EarthQuaker Comics. EarthQuaker Devices is no newbie when it comes to wicked art, and having staff artist Matt Horak develop a fantasy adventure comic is genius. Octo Skull issue #1 is out now, complete with an equally intriguing original soundtrack.


On Black Midi's Cavalcade, Geordie Greep’s fretwork is an example of the 6-string as a capable component as much as a solo instrument, never completely stealing the show.

Popular music and mainstream tastes may be more fractured than ever, but the guitar continues to thrive.

As we soft launch into the new year, I’m not waiting for the requisite guitar obituary in the news. It’s not going to happen again anytime soon. Why? Because as far as the mainstream media is concerned, our beloved instrument is not only dead, it's irrelevant to the point of not even being an afterthought. When the New York Times published their most recent albums of the year list, there was barely a guitar-based recording to be found. Still, there is not only hope, but also cause for jubilation.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.

Advanced

Beginner

• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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