Baker's Dozen: Kathleen Edwards, Flo Milli, Bright Eyes, and How I Feel About "drivers license"

Baker's Dozen: Kathleen Edwards, Flo Milli, Bright Eyes, and How I Feel About "drivers license"

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. Some non-streaming-service stuff I’ve enjoyed since we last talked: this song from a Ska Against Racism compilation, and Rachel Aggs’ wondrous home-recordings collection //TAPE 1// that came out last fall.

Boldy James, “Bentayga”

This will come off as sacrilege to many actively following hip-hop this year, and it comes with the caveat that I haven’t listened to the latest project, but Boldy James’ 2020 output didn’t connect with me the way it did with other people. I liked The Versace Tape though, especially when it sounded like this.


Always surprised at how controversial William Basinski—a great artist who was also a real chap when I interviewed him back when what feels like forever ago—is online. If it isn’t fussy subscribers losing their minds with ire over amazing covers of The Wire, it’s Experimental Music Twitter trying to bring him to the Hague over the artistic veracity of The Disintegration Loops. You can’t please anybody these days! But Basinski’s album as SPARKLE DIVISION with Preston Wendel was very pleasing, packed with left-field sounds that you wouldn’t expect from him. Basinski’s other album from last year was also very good but I’m still digging into it.

Kathleen Edwards, “Birds on a Feeder”

After all this time, Kathleen Edwards came back and pretty much picked up where she left off, continuing to kill it as if she was never gone at all. A treasure.

Black Marble, “Johnny and Mary”

One of the many ridiculous things about that stupid Spotify snob filter that was going around a month(?) back was seeing someone post a screenshot of the filter trying to dunk on Robert Palmer’s “Johnny and Mary.” WTF?!? Incredible song, was already subject to a great cover from Todd Terje and Bryan Ferry, and now we have this stripped-down take from Black Marble too. Black Marble were good during the notorious coldwave boom of the early 2010s and they’re good now too, whether it be covers or their own material.

Popcaan, “CHILL”

Between Fixtape and his feature on the DVSN album, Popcaan just about broke even on delivering one of the absolute worst verses on the Megan Thee Stallion album.

Burna Boy, “Onyeka (Baby)”

Trying to make up my mind whether Twice as Tall is as good as African Giant or not, both have loads of replayable tracks though. The hook here is so sticky, it loops itself in my brain like DNA replicating itself.

Flo Milli, “Pussycat Doll”

I did Flo Milli’s label bio back when “Beef FloMix” was a TikTok hit, full disclosure there. She’s extremely talented though, Ho, Why Is You Here? was a strong debut and she’s already established a strong lyrical flow. Great song here.

Bright Eyes, “Persona Non Grata”

Gotta love when Conor leans into that shredded vocal near the end. Would the Bright Eyes comeback album have been bigger in 2020 if they could’ve toured? Maybe. Who knows. It’s solid regardless.

The Killers, “When the Dreams Run Dry”

Hesitating to write too much on this one right now because I increasingly feel like I’m going to go long (or some length longer than what you’re reading right now) on this album and what The Killers did with it at some point. Beautiful song though! Very M83 Springsteen.

Troye Sivan, “IN A DREAM”

Gorgeous, great EP, his music is getting better and better.

Bully, “Where to Start”

Really had to get my magnifying glass out to figure out my favorite song from Sugaregg, because Bully’s whole thing is pretty straightforward in terms of the songs blurring together a little. That’s a good thing! The whole album is really nourishing rock music, scratches the Japandroids itch.

Fireboy DML, “Airplane Mode”

Apollo is definitely one of my favorite pop albums of 2020, the thing is just teeming with melody. I had to practically close my eyes and throw a dart at a wall to pick my favorite from this one.

Olivia Rodrigo, “drivers license”

This song’s a minute too long, right? I like some of the things it does, but it does TOO MUCH of the things I don’t think it really needs and NOT ENOUGH of the things I want it to do. Is that coherent criticism? Whatever. A lot of very reasonable comparisons have been brought out for this massive, instant hit: Lorde (definitely), Taylor Swift (in form if not in fashion, sure), Phoebe Bridgers (not so sure about that one). In my 19 Thoughts on Punisher, I mentioned that there was a specific sound slowly taking hold between it and several other albums, and perhaps this is the culmination of that.

But having listened to Rodrigo’s old stuff (read: the High School Musical the Series songs she sang on), this songwriting style didn’t come out of nowhere for her even if the song seems like it did. If anything, it’s very much rooted in the same melodramatic theater-kid sound that her HSM songs resembled. (As a reformed theater kid, I shed a single tear—okay, maybe two or three—for the high schoolers who didn’t get to spend the time in their cars together listening to Punisher like they were otherwise destined to in 2020.) Anyway, this song is good, not great, wonder if she can pull anything else off past this. If not, it’s one good trick, if a slightly insidious one (the narrative around this seems baked-in, to the point where I don’t trust it).

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Jamie Larson