Baker's Dozen: Cecile Believe, Special Interest, Chloe x Halle, and the Ongoing Saga of Dirty Projectors

Baker's Dozen: Cecile Believe, Special Interest, Chloe x Halle, and the Ongoing Saga of Dirty Projectors

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. These basically replace year-end lists, fyi. Not sure I’m doing those this year, or ever really.

Hum, “Step Into You”

Hum coming back after 22 years and making one of the loudest, chunkiest, and all-out melodically overwhelming shoegaze albums of the year feels like a minor miracle. Inlet sounds truly astral to me, like taking a rocket ship to a distant planet just to sit somewhere else and stare at a different part of the sky. Gorgeous music, I’ll live with it forever.

Dirty Projectors, “On the Breeze”

Dirty Projectors—arguably one of the more visible indie bands from, let’s say, 2008 to 2016—released five EPs this year. 20 songs! A lot of music, and I never saw anyone talk about it. Can you blame them? The 5EPs rollout is one of the last attempts, I suspect, that we’ll be seeing of the gradual installment-by-installment rollout that multiple artists this year (Moses Sumney, Hayley Williams, there are more I can’t recall at the moment, probably because they attempted this gambit too) attempted over the last 18 months, presumably to see how a flooding-the-area rollout would affect the lifecycle of promo. It didn’t work before COVID-19, and the relative silence around the Dirty Projectors’ releases suggests that it doesn’t work during COVID-19, either.

I’ve been up and down on everything in the DP world since Bitte Orca, which I did not like. My favorite album of theirs continues to be Rise Above, then Swing Lo Magellan, then The Getty Address. I haven’t really liked most of what Dave Longstreth’s been doing post-Swing Lo Magellan, but this song—spare, pretty, just melodically complex enough—stuck out to me on one of the EPs, gonna give the whole deal a listen at some point as one thing to see how it hits me in that context.

Cecile Believe, “Pick Up the Phone”

Listened to Cecile Believe’s new album, which I wasn’t really into, but thought to myself, “This sounds vaguely Arbutus-y?” Lo and behold, she used to be Mozart’s Sister. Makes sense. This song sounded nice. Weird how it used to be interesting when indie sounded like this—now, most indie just kind of sounds like this.

Dan Drohan, “Tokyo”

A lot of contemporary indie does not sound like this, though. Dan Drohan’s a drummer and producer from Massachusetts, and his latest album You’re a Crusher / drocan ! is divided between beat-driven fare and wild-eyed avant-pop. It doesn’t always hit, but when it does—like this track—he recalls early Animal Collective, as well as the scores of bands inspired by AC in their 2000s stretch.

Miley Cyrus, “Never Be Me”

As I said on Twitter, devastating song, honest and real, Sky Ferreira Cosplay Award in terms of sound too. Still digging into Plastic Hearts but I will have some thoughts to share tomorrow in (wait for it) 19 Thoughts About “Like a G6.”

NERO, “Reaching Out”

An oldie but a goodie. Been listening to a lot of EDM lately, beyond “Like a G6.” Trust that this’ll be discussed tomorrow too.

Queens of the Stone Age, “The Evil Has Landed”

Secretly one of the best hard rock songs of the decade, right? I kicked up some discourse online recently about QOTSA, even A-Trak chimed in. (Sorry Dombal—I know you think A-Trak is corny.) One of those bands where at some point I just need to spend two days out of my mind listening to everything they’ve done, just for kicks.

Country Westerns, “Times to Tunnels”

These guys are like Beach Slang for Lucero fans, right? I swear I’m not trying to be mean! I have paid for a Lucero concert ticket in my day, after all. Anyway, good band, decent debut, great song. Maybe they’ll keep delivering.

Speaker Music, “Amerikkka’s Bay” [ft. Maia Sanaa]

Stunning opener from, as I’ve said, one of the best electronic records of the year. I interviewed DeForrest last week, check it out. He was fun to talk to, and he does a lot of thinking.

Chloe x Halle, “Ungodly Hour”

Co-produced by Disclosure, who have apparently made a nice post-Settle career of doing their best work for others and saving all the garbage for their proper albums. The first Chloe x Halle album was good, this one is even better. Great songwriters, incredible at weaving in and out of style. This one’s my fave right now, but who knows what the future will bring.

Special Interest, “Head”

Listen to this song on Bandcamp.

Sick song, sick band. Wish live music was around!!!!!

Protomartyr, “Processed By the Boys”

One of my favorite songs of the year in any genre. The year I got into Protomartyr! And before I could take a flight to see them at Jumbo’s…ah, regrets. I had a great talk with Joe Casey earlier this year, clearly all of you loved it because it’s one of my most-read posts. Read it again.

Chris Crack, “Productively Stoned”

”Getting old sucks ‘cause everybody gotta die.” That’s real. Love Chris Crack, he has this ability to shift lyrical mood mid-verse that seems writerly but also sounds so effortless. What an artist.

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Jamie Larson