Baker's Dozen: Fire-Toolz, Kehlani, Avalon Emerson, and the Drake Album That Time Forgot

Baker's Dozen: Fire-Toolz, Kehlani, Avalon Emerson, and the Drake Album That Time Forgot

Baker’s Dozen is a recurring weekly franchise 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. Yes, that includes Drake.

Lindbergh Palace, “1986”

Finally watched Fort Tilden, the only film to date from the brilliant creative team of Sarah Violet-Bliss and Charles Rogers, who are better known for the excellent TV show Search Party (all seasons of which currently on TBS—the most recent season is especially amazing). Fort Tilden didn’t get amazing reviews when it came out, and I assume it’s because Violet-Bliss and Rogers have a pretty pessimistic worldview when it comes to our generation’s most annoying and selfish tics. But they’re the only ones who perfectly capture that vibe, too, and I highly recommend Fort Tilden—which is hilariously excruciating in how it depicts the born-in-1985-to-1988 set—for that reason alone.

This song was used in the movie’s closing credits, and it’s very late-2000s/early-2010s by design. The band’s not around anymore, they were from Brooklyn (can you tell?), but I think this is an absolute gem that captures that post-bloghouse sound some of us were soooooooo enamored with in our twenties. I like how the vocals sound as if they’re pushing at their own seams, and I also love the lyrics: “The more you’re right, the more you’re wrong/ The more you cry, the more it turns me on.” Jesus, just buy me a drink at Glasslands already.

Avalon Emerson, “Poodle Power”

Avalon Emerson is one of the best DJs on the planet. Listen to this boards recording from 2017 if you don’t believe me—or check out her recent contribution to !K7’s DJ-Kicks mix series, of which it is a more than worthy installment. She’s also an incredible producer, as this single from her DJ-Kicks mix proves. Loopy and deep, wish I could hear this in a crowd of people.

Loathe, “Screaming”

I’ve sung the praises of Loathe’s I Let It In and It Took Everything a few times already, it’s brutal and beautiful music that combines several genres of rock into something crushing and intense. Found myself revisiting this album constantly as of recent, what a song this is.

The Soft Pink Truth, “We”

The Soft Pink Truth’s latest album Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase? has an incredible title and incredible music behind it. To me, it sounds like a spiritual successor to DJ Sprinkles’ Midtown 120 Blues, only even more of a piece than that album. It’s funny to isolate a track from it, especially since the album’s back half unfolds into a sort of pure ecstasy, but this is an easy highlight for me.

Drake, “D4L” [ft. Future and Young Thug]

Remember when Drake released an album this year? The way Dark Lane Demo Tapes basically disappeared upon impact seems indicative of how easily event albums have been de-emphasized in the pandemic, as well as a sign that Drake is simply around now without making anyone too excited. Future steals the show on this one, as he frequently does on guest appearances—just letting loose with a bunch of tongue trills between every bar like he’s a goddamn bird. Just like his infamous and iconic verse on “King’s Dead,” Future is always best when he’s just doing weird shit with his voice and rolling with it.

Fivio Foreign, “Big Drip”

Listening to this one on repeat lately. The more visceral NY drill is, the more I like it.

Damien Jurado, “The End of the Road”

I’ve been aware of Damien Jurado’s music since I was in high school, but he never quite connected with me until what I think was an incredible run that he kicked off in the 2010s. (His streak with late, great producer Richard Swift was especially mesmerizing.) Jurado’s always underrated to me, and that includes his quite good album from this year. This song sounds like something from the early 2000s to me in a good way.

Chicano Batman, “Moment of Joy”

Lush and funky, you could put this on Tame Impala’s Currents and no one could tell the difference.

Blake Mills, “Mirror Box”

Blake Mills is obviously very talented, didn’t really connect with his latest album though—my attention drifted off too much, blame video games and EDM maybe. I love the direction this instrumental goes off into though, sounds wandering and quietly beautiful.

Fire-Toolz, “{Screamographic Memory}”

Listen to this song on Bandcamp.

The less said about James Ferraro, in my opinion, the better—but his quixotic and mostly awful Far Side Virtual unwittingly provided raw tools for a new generation of artists to build something better and more brilliant. Angel Marcloid has been around and active a lot longer than that new generation, but I hear a little of FSV in her Fire-Toolz project, which I find more exciting with every successive release. Her latest, Rainbow Bridge, is all virtuosic Weather Channel-esque synth work and black metal howls; this track closes it out and is far more soothing, but its heavenly radiance sticks with me as much as the intense stuff does.

Kehlani, “Change Your Life” [ft. Jhene Aiko]

I’ve sung the praises of Kehlani around these parts before. Her latest album is her best yet, I think; she’s simply just so goddamn good at making R&B that sounds timeless and timely all at once. I’m stuck on this song currently, but there’s like eight from the album that are pure magic.

Cafe Racer, “Seminal Art”

Listen to this song on Bandcamp.

Sometimes I post talky post-punk revival stuff, sometimes I post the type of post-punk that sounds like Deerhunter. Deal with it. This album was very pro forma to me in a low-key enjoyable way—they’re from Chicago, sounds like fellow Chi band Deeper, something in the water there I think—but this song was The One after a few listens. Maybe they’ll be able to build their sound into something greater, we’ll see.

Buscabulla, “El Aprieto”

Sounds like Neon Indian’s “Annie.” Not mad about it!

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Jamie Larson