Baker's Dozen: Kehlani, Potty Mouth, Waxahatchee, and Where I'm At With J Hus

Baker's Dozen: Kehlani, Potty Mouth, Waxahatchee, and Where I'm At With J Hus

A few Baker’s Dozens ago, my brother texted me and said, “This song on your playlist sounded especially good.” Then he texted me an audio file of him flicking his doorstop against the speaker of his phone. Turns out he was ripping on Move D and Benjamin Brunn’s ambient techno track “Magnetically Levitated Train.” Kevin, I hate to break it to you, but there’s a few songs like that on this one too. Deal with it.

Potty Mouth, “Starry Eyes”

One of those things where, when I first heard the record this song is from (the Western Mass pop-punk band’s second album SNAFU from last year), I was like, “Wait, they sound like this now?” Maybe I remember the last album different, but I’m not complaining either way. “Starry Eyes” features a co-write with Patrik Berger, who also had a hand in Charli XCX’s “Boom Clap” and Robyn’s classic “Dancing on My Own,” and it appropriately sounds huge and heartfelt—like a standout from a ‘90s teen movie soundtrack.

Kehlani, “Footsteps” [ft. Musiq Soulchild]

I was just saying to a friend a few weeks ago that, at this point, Kehlani simply makes the type of music I want to hear at any time. I’m into her latest album from this year, but I’m still stuck on the highlights from last year’s While We Wait, like this one. (One thing as we continue to move along with this newsletter: I’m gonna be posting music that’s a few years old with some regularity. I’m always playing catch-up with the sounds of years before even as I’m keeping up with what’s going on right now—as is everyone, even if they don’t want to admit it.) Anyway! Kehlani just makes rock solid and extremely pleasurable R&B at this point—her feature on Justin Bieber’s “Get Me” from earlier this year is another example of this.

Julia Jacklin, “Good Guy”

Have a real hard time choosing my favorite song on any given day from Jacklin’s 2019 album Crushing. Sonically, this one could’ve come straight off Angel Olsen’s certified classic Burn Your Fire for No Witness. Another raw and confessional Australian indie rocker, which there’s been no short supply of over the last several years (a very good thing).

Westkust, “Daylight”

Swedish indie-pop so Swedish that it practically starts raining as soon as the first guitar is strummed. Love a good propulsive shoegaze song, this sounds like it could be ripped straight from any classic album in the subgenre.

Michael Vallera, “Window In”

Lot of dark ambience on this Chicago guitarist’s latest album—music that’s soothing and unnerving, sometimes simultaneously and sometimes not. In conclusion, Michael Vallera is a land of contrasts.

J Hus, “Repeat” [ft. Koffee]

I’m still a la carte with J Hus for now. I loved “Did You See” from a few years ago, but was only into a few songs off of this year’s Big Conspiracy, which (to my ears, anyway) dipped into old-school tropes a little too often to really hold my attention. This song is great, though—and I think it’s owed largely in part to the hook from Koffee, whose “Toast” from last year I also loved.

J Balvin, “Azul”

J Balvin’s latest album goes down so smoothly that it practically tricks you into thinking we’re having a normal, easygoing summer for a little bit. I got to interview him in person a few years ago, and it was a great conversation if you’re so inclined to read it. He has a Nirvana tattoo.

USA/Mexico, “Shoofly”

An Austin noise-rock sorta-supergroup (one of the Butthole Surfers guys is in this band) covering a song from another veteran Austin noise-rock act. Pretty specific stuff! This sounds like someone slowed down a Lightning Bolt song to me. Maybe I’ll listen to the original one day, but I’m in no real rush.

Gigi Masin, “If”

Italian ambient veteran doing his thing with synths that stretch into the horizon and a wandering piano line that adds just the right amount of drama. I’ve only been passingly familiar with Masin’s work before this year’s Calypso, but I’m looking forward to diving in more.

Waxahatchee, “Lilacs”

It takes a special artist to deliver an absolute classic of an album five albums in, and Katie Crutchfield did that. At this point, there’s nothing about Saint Cloud that I could say that hasn’t been said better by others—but man, just peerless songwriting all across this album. I took cues from my wife in choosing the highlight here since I had trouble choosing myself, but “Lilacs”—along with Saint Cloud as a whole—does feel like something we’ll all be revisiting for a long time to come.

Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini, “Illusion of Time”

Still need to check out that Daniel Avery solo album that just came out, need to get on that. In the meantime, this beautifully blurry cut and title track from his collab album with frequent Nine Inch Nails sideman Alessandro Cortini has been on repeat for me. This song kind of gets at what Avery’s strengths are to me—warm, melodic textures that feel close enough to reach out and touch. Saw him at Good Room a few years ago with friends, which was nice.

Maren Morris, “The Feels”

A good thing to listen to if you want to remind yourself of what life was like when leaving the house wasn’t so utterly fucking terrifying most of the time.

Hilary Woods, “Through the Dark, Love”

Speaking of terrifying: I’m still trying to figure out what is going on with Woods’ Birthmarks, second album for Sacred Bones, and I love it. Had no idea she was in once-tagged “next Radiohead” band JJ72 until Lanre Bakare from The Guardian pointed it out on Twitter—thanks, Lanre. There’s spooky British folk stuff in play here, as well as waves of encroaching noise; at times, it sounds like labelmate Pharmakon if she went as close to “pop” as she could get. Spellbinding stuff.

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Jamie Larson