Baker's Dozen: Lady Gaga, Wares, El Alfa, Christian Lee Hutson, and a Prince Song Too

Baker's Dozen: Lady Gaga, Wares, El Alfa, Christian Lee Hutson, and a Prince Song Too

Baker’s Dozen is a recurring weekly feature in which I share a playlist of songs I’ve been enjoying lately, along with commentary on said songs and artists, as well as whatever else I want to comment on. But, really, is there anything else going on to even talk about these days?

Woods, “Fell so Hard”

Woods have to be one of the most consistent bands of all time. But Strange to Explain, their first album in three years (save for backing the late, great David Berman as Purple Mountains), has a few slightly darker shades to it, adding some new and interesting textures to their shaggy-dog folk-rock sound. As things sometimes go, the standout to me (there’s always at least one or two on every one of their records) doesn’t really take that path, instead sounding more upbeat and benevolently jammy—but there is a vaguely noir-ish vibe to the song’s opening.

Machine Gun Kelly, “lonely”

Wrote about this album earlier this week, I obviously won’t blame you if you missed it. Every Blink-182 ripoff needs its own “Adam’s Song,” and goddamn if this isn’t an effective attempt. MGK’s “singing voice” works really well here, he just hits this whole thing with a low-grade moan and he sells the pain.

Lil Peep, “Life Is Beautiful”

As I also wrote earlier this week, Machine Gun Kelly’s pivot feels like a mark of influence from Lil Peep, whose legacy has only started to be really felt in pop music. This is my favorite Peep song I think, even though I am definitely still absorbing his body of work overall. Devastating lyrics and vocals, it’s very sad that he’s gone.

Prince, “In a Large Room With No Light”

The Sign O’ the Times reissue is generally incredible, with just tons of unreleased stuff and alternate takes that further confirms what we already knew: Prince was a genius. This previously unreleased song blew me away when I first heard it, wild that there’s stuff like this that he did practically in his sleep. I texted my friend earlier this week and said “You gotta listen to the Sign O’ the Times reissue,” and she said “Ooh I’ll listen if the world doesn’t end tomorrow.” Hope she gets to listen to it!

Lady Gaga, “Plastic Doll”

My wife is a huge Gaga fan and strongly disagrees with me about this being my favorite Chromatica song, but whatever. I really like the party-rock-is-in-the-house-tonight vibe of the album overall, the production is very garish and excessive in a New Pop way—some of it feels like what you’d get if ABC made an EDM record. I like the chorus on “Plastic Doll,” it sounds vaguely jungle-y to me.

Bill Nace, “Part 8”

Good shit, beautiful end to Nace’s harrowing album Both. I got to see Body/Head at Saint Vitus once, they were great.

India Jordan, “Westbourne Ave”

Like the rush of being alive, India Jordan’s music is always hurtling forward. Their latest release For You is all ecstasy and maximalism, pushing French Touch and rave loops to their most beautifully overwhelming zenith. This is one of the chiller cuts, but it also shows that, even when they slow it down, the music is always moving.

Wares, “Survival”

I’ve been on a huge Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown kick lately after revisiting this record, which is just so “Canadian indie rock” (I hear some Frog Eyes in here, too) that I’m unable to not love it. This whole album is pretty special, when she’s not doing controlled blasts like this she stretches her legs a bit with bombastic arrangements and outros that most bands would be jealous of. Can’t wait to see what she does next.

Nídia, “Capacidades”

Vibes. Sometimes Nídia’s productions can be a little headache-inducing for me, but this is the perfect combination of her melodic intuition and hard-hitting beat work.

Nation of Language, “September Again”

Serious Lansing-Dreiden vibes from these guys. Shockingly effective re-creation of OMD-esque 1980s synth-pop, the whole album is low-stakes fun in that regard.

El Alfa, “Coronao Now” [ft. Lil Pump]

I promise that I earmarked this one before the “Little Pimp” thing. Seriously.

Odunsi (The Engine), “Body Count” [ft. Gigi Atlantis, DETO BLACK, and Amaarae]

Just luscious production, the kind of thing you can listen to on loop for hours. Feels miniature and massive at the same time, like an optical illusion.

Christian Lee Hutson, “Atheist”

Peerless songwriting from this guy, he’s so good at lyrical narratives and microscopic observations. The whole album was produced by Phoebe Bridgers, and you can certainly hear their artistic kinship in this song and others. I love the way his voice follows the guitar line, like they’re taking each other for a walk.

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Jamie Larson