Baker's Dozen: Bibio, Baths, Brigid Mae Power, and the Most Surprisingly Enjoyable Release of 2020

Baker's Dozen: Bibio, Baths, Brigid Mae Power, and the Most Surprisingly Enjoyable Release of 2020

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. I used to call it a “franchise” because I haven’t yet shaken late-2010s corporate digital media speak from my brain. Bear with me here.

Phoebe Bridgers, “Chinese Satellite”

Phoebe Bridgers did a thing on Twitter recently where she explained a bunch of her lyrics, and I tried to avoid it like people avoid spoilers because I’d rather treasure the images her words conjure in my head at this point. So many good lines in this song. Did I mention how much I love Punisher? Save for a late-in-the-game release (which won’t happen) it’s my favorite album of the year so far.

glaive, “arsenic”

Probably my favorite glaive song at the moment. Read my interview with him. He’s only 15 and he’s already making really interesting music.

Hinds, “Riding Solo”

I could count the number of Hinds songs I like on one hand, but this is one of them. Probably the most blatant rip of “Paper Planes”…ever? Whatever, there’s a reason why we all still love “Paper Planes,” too.

Soccer Mommy, “crawling in my skin”

Best Deerhunter song of the year. I’ve said this a few times, but Color Theory is absolutely one of the best indie rock albums of 2020, I listen to it constantly and its hooks hang in my head all the time. Watch out for an interview with Sophia on Monday.

Bibio, “Sleep on the Wing”

I have no idea why Bibio’s latest didn’t get more attention. He’s one of those artists where, seemingly, the level of which their work is going to be appreciated relies mostly on the roll of a die. Anyway: I think he’s been up and down regarding what I’ve connected with him throughout his career, which is why I always check with him to see when we sync. This song and album is his best since, what, Ambivalence Avenue? (I liked Phantom Brickworks too, but not as much as this or AA.) The pastoral Boards of Canada-isms abound, like a thousand warm blankets. Sometimes I just throw this song on repeat for ten minutes or so.

Allie X, “June Gloom”

One of those songs that you just know was written before the pandemic. It’s June gloom 12 months a year now, dog. Catch up.

Tame Impala, “Posthumous Forgiveness”

Example No. 1,000 as to why the “Tame Impala is just background music!” complaints are mostly bullshit. This song is clearly about loss—about wanting to reach out to someone who wasn’t really there for you to begin with, and missing that possibility. The Slow Rush had that Twitter thing happen where most of the actual longform reviews were like “Yep, I like this OK,” but a lot of people apparently got exhausted by Kevin Parker going full Balearic instead of, I don’t know, what were all of you actually expecting after Currents? Anyway, if you haven’t listened to The Slow Rush recently, listen to it again. It’s as good as most not-online music listeners think it is, and it’s certainly better than most music writers have let on, too.

Beach Bunny, “April”

Idk man, April seems a little early to go to the beach.

Angelo de Augustine, “All Your Life”

Can you tell this guy is pals with Sufjan Stevens? He just put out a two-tracker with Sufjan on one of the sides, but honestly I’m still reveling in his previous album from 2019 more than those two new songs. Really impressive how he conjures intimacy so close to the bone, I like (don’t love) the new singles but am hoping and expecting more (and more impressive) material to come.

Baths, “Tropic Laurel”

A real testament to Will Weisenfeld’s talent that he saves songs like this for B-sides collections. Pop Music / False B-Sides II is in general way better than most rarities collections, but then I’m always waving the flag for him. A decade on, his songwriting and production acumen are still ultra sturdy, have to respect it.

2nd Grade, “Boys In Heat”

Another banger from Double Double Whammy, a label that feels underrated if only because we don’t really champion labels the way we used to. (Who should we blame for this? I don’t know, but I don’t really want to get into it right now.) Of course this kid is from Philly. Alex Chilton vibes. There’s, like, 30 songs on this album or something. Not every one is as good as this, but when’s the last time you wrote 30 songs or something? That’s what I thought.

Brigid Mae Power, “Head Above the Water”

Listen to this song on Bandcamp.

Unbelievable record from Brigid Mae Power, whose last one I loved too. Fairport Convention hours for certain, she’s a stunning songwriter who also seems like she’s just getting started. Try to cover your ears as I try to whistle along to the end of this one.

Muzz, “Bad Feeling”

If you said to me, “Paul Banks started a new band that sounds like an amalgamation of every NYC rock band 2003 - 2008 and the album is mostly really enjoyable,” I’d say to you, “C’mon, don’t finish that, I threw in on this one, man.”

In all seriousness: when I did a 5-10-15-20 with Paul a few years ago at my once-bitten-twice-shy alma mater, two things stood out to me. One was that he has a poor concept of who he knows and who he doesn’t. “Great to see you again!,” he said to me as I met him for the first time. “No, we’ve never met,” I politely chuckled, to which he replied, “Nah, we’ve partied together. How’ve you been?” “Good, great to see you again,” I just kind of spit out. Did I party with him at some point in the early 2010s? No idea, probably not, but you never really know.

(This is not the first time this has happened. When I interviewed Ethan Hawke for this, he gave me a hug and said, “Great to see you again, man!” When I insisted we’ve never met, he said to me, “Nah, you were at that thing a few years ago. So how’ve you been?” It’s easier to play along when this happens.)

Back to Paul, and the other thing that stood out: I do think he likes music. That may seem like an obvious observation about, y’know, a capable and successful musician, but as someone who’s met a lot of successful musicians over the last 15 years, not a ton of them actually seem like they like music. He’s got a nerdy energy about what he listens to though—just like Rivers Cuomo and Brandon Flowers, two artists who are more eccentric than Paul but similarly give off a “This is who I am” vibe when it comes to what they put out there.

My point is, of course Paul Banks would make a slowcore album with a bunch of NYC buddies in 2020. Why the fuck not? This song is probably the best on the album, but most of it sounds like some sort of quietly and seedily gorgeous spin on the National, Beach House, the Walkmen—I don’t know man, close your eyes and throw a fucking dart at any tri-state indie band circa 2003-2011. The point is that it works.

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Jamie Larson