Baker's Dozen: Chris Crack, Jane Birkin, and Good Music for Bad Times

Baker's Dozen: Chris Crack, Jane Birkin, and Good Music for Bad Times

Baker's Dozen is a weekly thing for paid subscribers of Larry Fitzmaurice's Last Donut of the Night newsletter, which comes with a playlist of music I've been listening to lately as well as some stray thoughts around them.

Jubilee, "Call for Location"

Jubilee's overall established style is "very good club music," and her second album Call for Location from 2019 is kind of a travelogue when it comes to the sounds she has an interest in working within. Did that sentence sound too music publication-y? It might've. Anyway, that climbing synth line that runs through the song's middle is awesome, it recalls Classixx or even (holds breath for a second as you know exactly what I'm gonna say) the Tough Alliance. I guess it's time to set the "days since last mentioned the Tough Alliance" clock back to zero.

Montana of 300, "Goated Up"

Love that "It Takes Two" sample buried deep within the mix, it took me a few listens to be like "There it is" but, well, there it is. Montana of 300 used to be mentioned in places like the FADER back when the FADER was still employing people to actively write (not podcast, actively write) ‎about music, this was around 2016-2017; then, as it is with so much rap media, he just kind of stopped getting covered, and then he didn't do anything for three years from 2019 on. Rap God from this year is supposed to be his "last" album, but who knows what that means when anyone says that these days, Coldplay have always retired like three times now. The record's OK as a whole, nothing too much to write home about.

BROODS, "Piece of My Mind"

BROODS are one of those acts where, if you bear any degree of separation from the music industry, you've probably gotten 2,000 press releases about over the past decade; whether you've listened to the music is another story, but I'm gonna guess you haven't. Are you surprised they sound like this? Should you be?

Josef Salvat, "Pleasure Pain"

Pure coincidence that two relatively anonymous-sounding major-label pop artists from the Australia/New Zealand part of the world are following each other here, I swear. (Really!) Obviously this is cut from the same cloth as what Troye Sivan ‎‎is doing — maybe even some of Sam Smith's less morose moments, if we're being generous — but obviously it's not terribly distinct, even as it maintains a specific surface appeal. He's also another example of someone who I've received thousands of emails over the years about.

Chris Crack, "Air Mattresses and Machine Guns"

"I just wanna do some songs with Redman." Same. What else is there to say about Chris Crack ‎at this point, other than the fact that it seems like right when I'm digging into a recent album of his, he goes ahead and releases one or two more. He's one of my favorite working rappers at this point and has been for a few years, few are better at being funnier, and fewer can be funny and turn that on a dime towards some other emotion within just a few bars. I'd say Growthfully Developed is his best record in a minute, but hey, maybe the new one is even better, we'll see.

Paysage D'Hiver, "Schuurig"

Here's another relentlessly prolific guy I've featured around these parts before...I loved Paysage d'Hiver's howling Im Wald from 2020, and I vibe with last year's Geister too, which turns away from the shivering soundscapes of its predecessor and leans hard on the sludgy side of things, resulting in a sound that's almost...verdant? This is the closest that he comes to sounding like May flowers, to me.

Róisín Murphy, "Hardcore Jealousy"

Indulge a personal anecdote for a second: If you've been reading every newsletter, you know that my wife got hit with a 40% rent increase recently that, while not life-ruining for us, is certainly on the fucking-your-life-up-a-little-or-maybe-even-a-little-more-than-that level of things. ‎‎Given what I've heard other people deal with rent-wise in NYC and generally across the country this year, this wasn't a shock but it was something I heavily dreaded, for months—to the point where, when I asked our building's management company what was up with getting a new lease sent our way, it was almost like setting a clock for bad vibes. Anyway, a few Fridays ago I stepped out of a diner and threw on this track from Róisín Murphy's recent remix album, and I thought, "Man, this would be chaotic music to receive bad news to." Almost immediately, the news of the rent increase hit my inbox. Whether this tune is musical fiber for pushing out the worst things possible is up for debate, but I can't deny it feels a little cursed even as the rave-iness of it all is still pretty sick.

Moneybagg Yo, "Wockesha"

Time to pivot to something more lighthearted, so here's a song about being addicted to lean. All jokes aside, "Wockesha" is an excellent song from the frequently-reliable Moneybagg Yo, who gets very writerly here re: personification to strong effect (there is, of course, a long history of rappers and lyricists in general fumbling the ball in that regard). The song ‎ is funny, sad, clever, and strangely romantic too—pretty much as kaleidoscopic of a perspective on addiction as you could get.

A very diaristic and autobiographical cut here from the excellent Song of Sage: Post Panic!. Similar to many of his contemporaries, Navy Blue is just so good at presenting a perspective in which he's almost hovering over not only what he sees about others but his own life's experience; it's not so much detached as it is reflecting some sort of empathy-rich outlook, I honestly find it hard to nail down in words what makes him and a lot of the other underground NYC guys from the last five years ‎but if you've spent time with their work, you know what I'm getting at here.

UMI, "Introspection"

Good song. Never tell UMI that before listening to her music I confused her with OMI, of "Cheerleader" fame. Wonder if they've met.

H.C. McEntire, "Hands for the Harvest"

I believe I shared my fave from H.C. McEntire's first post-Mount Mariah record Lionheart a ways back; here's the one that really knocked me out from her solid 2020 follow-up Eno Axis. Apparently she's got a new one out next year, exciting stuff.

Jane Birkin, "Ta sentinelle"

I was supposed to interview Jane Birkin‎‎‎ in 2020 but it fell through...certainly not the worst thing to happen that year, by a long shot. Her album Oh! Pardon tu dormais... was probably my biggest surprise from that year in terms of how much I enjoyed it, plenty of Air-y moments. This cut has a bit of a languid Yo La Tengo-y indie flavor to it imo, even as it's very much still in the "French pop" tradition...if you don't hear it, though, I understand.

Holy Motors, "Midnight Cowboy"

I heard from a reader a while back that I introduced them to Estonian Lynch-rock outfit Holy Motors after posting a ‎cut from their 2018 album Slow Sundown and, honestly, that is why I do this, folks. Just a little moment of personal pride on my end, I'll move on from it. Anyway, their 2020 album Horse is also pretty good, will be interesting if they throw out a new one soon.

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Jamie Larson