Baker's Dozen: Dear Nora, Gulch, Skullcrusher, and #BrandyDeepCuts

Baker's Dozen: Dear Nora, Gulch, Skullcrusher, and #BrandyDeepCuts

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. Lots of mostly 2020-focused playlists for a while still! Will be this way for at least a few months I reckon.

Dear Nora, “Come on Inside” (2003)

While listening to the excellent rarities compilation that this is from, I realized that I’d first heard Dear Nora’s music way earlier than I’d thought on her and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone’s cover of Missy Elliott’s “Hot Boyz,” which I listened to a lot around the time of release. Of course, Casiotone and Advance Base mastermind Owen Ashworth’s Orindal label is responsible for this lovely collection from a band that I’m still enjoying digging into their catalog.

LYAM, “Origami” [ft. John Glacier and Shygirl]

The project this came out on sounded a little scattershot to me, but some interesting moments, this stood out. Sometimes I’m putting tracks on here that piqued my interest but didn’t wholly hook me, and weeks later I might come back to it and enjoy it 10x more. Maybe that’ll happen here too! Who knows.

George Clanton and Nick Hexum, “Driving in My Car”

I’m tempted to say “Maybe chillwave isn’t dead after all,” but despite the familiar sonic confines of this I don’t think George Clanton or Nick Hexum are really doing chillwave as much as they’re just doing themselves. Anyway, George Clanton continues to be an extremely talented and canny producer, Nick Hexum continues to be that guy who made “Amber” just sound so fuckin’ good.

Skullcrusher, “Places/Plans”

Achingly beautiful song, great EP, exactly the kind of introductory release that makes you want to hear everything this person can do.

Yo La Tengo, “Georgia thinks it’s probably okay (Tuesday)”y

They just recorded some drones in a practice space for this, right? Too lazy to look it up right now. Well, it does the trick regardless.

Shoreline Mafia, “Change Ya Life”

I guess these guys are broken up now or something? Oh well. Good song.

Blu & Exile, “The American Dream” [ft. Miguel and the Last Artful, Dodgr]

The latest Blu & Exile album is, like, a million years long—it reminds me of the 30 Rock joke with Liz and Dennis sitting in the same theater watching The Hours and groaning, “They should’ve called it The Weeks.” But there’s some great melodies and production on it, this song sounds like sunshine to me.

Brian Fresco and SD, “Aretha”

Every Pi’erre Bourne beat feels like eating a cloud. Gorgeous sounds, like someone slathered candy all over a video game, you can practically taste it.

Liv.e, “I Been Livin”

As I’ve said a few times now, 2020 was a killer year for R&B.

Brandy, “Borderline”

Like, really good. This song would’ve been a hipster crossover in the early 2010s. Brandy did it right on the whole damn album.

Victoria Monét, “Ass Like That”

But, seriously: Really fucking good year for R&B! Victoria Monét is a songwriter’s songwriter, and “Ass Like That” is very writerly even though the conceit, which is basically a more clever version of LMFAO blurting out “I work out!,” is a little corny. But still, amazing hook, lyrics are on point, production is out of this world. Her album was pretty nice, too.

Gulch, “Lie, Deny, Sanctify”

Little change-up for ya! These guys rule, great band. My wife’s library branch got taken over as a test-and-trace facility for the city, so she’s back home with me for a while, and when I put on this record recently she said, “I love this music when I’m listening to it on headphones, but when you’re playing it in the apartment during the day it feels like noise pollution.” Sorry.

Fuzz, “Blind to Vines”

I’m so a la carte with Ty Segall that it’s like I’m ordering off of the Taco Bell menu. Most of his music I just don’t vibe with, even though I enjoy a lot of music that’s (waves hand around) in his sphere—but sometimes he sounds good to me. Goodbye Bread is an example, there’s been one or two other moments since, and then there’s this song off his new album with Fuzz. I like when he sounds like this!

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Jamie Larson