Baker's Dozen: Half Waif, Nicolas Jaar, and All the Times I've Been Mistaken for Zach Galfinakis

Baker's Dozen: Half Waif, Nicolas Jaar, and All the Times I've Been Mistaken for Zach Galfinakis

A few years ago, I got obliterated on Twitter for saying I didn’t “get” jazz—so much so that I had to delete the tweet! By far the worst reaction I’ve ever gotten for anything online, and if you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve had a few that have come close. Anyway: it was a joke, I don’t hate jazz or whatever, although I stand by my original assertion that more music writers have become more enthusiastic about it in the last several years because the alternative was actually trying to understand Lil Pump. Why am I talking about any of this? Oh yeah, because there’s some jazz on this latest playlist. Jazz that I like!

Stella Donnelly, “Tricks”

If you want a brief window into I put these together: at some point in the listening process, I go to one of several playlists I have, sorted by year, of music I liked on first listen from that year and revisit albums and EPs until I have them culled down to the tracks I really like. Then I try to choose one track from the release to put in this playlist. Sometimes it’s easy to choose (a lot of times I only like one or two songs), sometimes it’s not! This is a good example of a time in which it was not easy. Stella Donnelly’s Beware of the Dogs from last year is really clever and confrontational indie-pop—another Australian singer-songwriter who isn’t afraid to get raw, albeit in a different sonic mode than contemporaries like Camp Cope and Julia Jacklin. I’m not sure there’s a bad song on the album.

Lyra Pramuk, “New Moon”

Still absorbing this awesome-sounding record, which sounds to me like Emeralds’ Does It Look Like I’m Here? with the human voice instead of piles of sugary synth loops. Pramuk has collaborated with Holly Herndon and Colin Self in the past, which makes a lot of sense if you’ve spent time with those two artists’ work.

Oozing Wound, “Tween Shitbag”

I have no real idea what makes metal land with me vs. what doesn’t, but I know that if it’s loud, fast, and nasty-sounding, I’m typically into it. Oozing Wound have been doing their thing for a bit, this one from their last album stood out to me—for whatever reason this track makes me think of Blood Brothers’ …Burn, Piano Island, Burn.

Empty Country, “Ultrasound”

I loved Joe D’Agostino’s last band, Cymbals Eat Guitars, a band that got better and better before packing it in after Pretty Years in 2016. A good memory: seeing them live at Baby’s All Right with several friends from back home whom appropriately geeked out at sighting the Wrens’ Charles Bissell in the audience. Bissell is on D’Agostino’s album as Empty Country, in which the latter takes his emo-leaning indie rock sound and applies some heartland rock to it. Awesome record overall, lots of tender moments amidst driving songs like this one.

The Comet Is Coming, “Super Zodiac”

Similar to metal, I’m still figuring out what makes certain jazz records appeal to me beyond nodding my head whenever anyone mentions Miles Davis albums to pretend that I know what I’m talking about. I clearly like jazz that’s infused with psychedelia and touches of electronic music—at least, judging by this track.

PUP, “A.M. 180”

One of the best artist-cover song pairings I’ve heard in recent memory, albeit one I wouldn’t have come up with myself. Who would’ve thought one of North America’s best pop-punk bands would so easily take on a song from indie rock greats Grandaddy, to the point where it sounds like their own?

Nicolas Jaar, “Faith Made of Silk”

Back when The Hangover franchise was still in everyone’s memory, I was getting mistaken for Zach Galfinakis a lot. At the movies, at the store, walking down the street: “Hey, Hangover guy!” One time, after I saw Blue Caprice (decent movie, Isaiah Washington is a monster regardless) at the IFC, a couple came up to me and my wife and insisted I was “Alan, from The Hangover.” I explained that I wasn’t, but they wouldn’t have it. This happened all the time! I was at a Nicolas Jaar DJ set at a gross club in Tribeca with a friend, and a woman came up to me and said “My friend thinks you’re hilarious, come and meet her.” I gave the usual spiel, and she said “Who cares, just pretend you are.” I left five minutes later. Time’s passed, I haven’t been compared to him in years—I’ve changed for sure, and so has Nicolas Jaar, whose music has gotten weirder and more fascinating with every release. Have I, too? I don’t know man, you tell me.

Strand of Oaks, “Weird Ways”

Classic example of a guy where, whenever he puts out an album, I’m like, “Oh right, this guy is very good.” If Empty Country is emo-via-heartland rock, this song plays it a little more straight down the middle regarding the latter tag—although the back half of this song sounds like Oasis a little, yeah? Maybe it’s just me.

Vanessa Carlton, “I Can’t Stay the Same”

Vanessa Carlton kind of freaked it on her latest albumJuly 31, 2020

Duval Timothy, “Like” [ft. Vegyn]

Really hypnotizing stuff here from Duval Timothy and Vegyn—feels lush and spare at the same time, weirdly sounds 2000s to me while also bearing a certain contemporary appeal. This album as a whole is super dense and fascinating and I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time with it.

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, “Songs She Never Heard” [ft. Logan Richardson]

This whole record sounds incredible to me, was nearly impossible to pick out a highlight but this one hits right under a certain light. Another song on this album sounds a little like Animal Collective’s “Safer” (I would say that).

Half Waif, “Ordinary Talk”

Real Tori Amos vibes from the latest Half Waif album, and you know that’s a compliment. Another one where I think the whole album is just really excellent, but this song stands out to me because of the turn it takes halfway through—pulling back, then building back up again in a really lush and devastating way. Really fascinating and exposed songwriting, the more I listen to this album the more I adore it.

Hot Mulligan, “OG Bule Sky”

Empty Country may be emo refracted, but these guys are emo and that’s it. Real throat-shredding stuff, kind of a litmus test for whether you even like this stuff. (I love this stuff.) These guys’ album is kind of disappointing as a whole, it drops off after the first four tracks or so—but this is as good of an opening track as any. Imagine if this energy was sustained for an entire album.

Subscribe to Last Donut of the Night

Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
Jamie Larson