Baker's Dozen: Christina Aguilera, AJ Tracey, and Hyperpop Writ Large

Baker's Dozen: Christina Aguilera, AJ Tracey, and Hyperpop Writ Large
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Baker's Dozen is usually for paid subscribers, but this one's for everyone to read. (I usually do free Baker's Dozens when I have a considerable backlog of playlists to post—which, yes, that's where I am right now.) All newsletter revenue is currently being donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds; as of now, $2,563.52 has been donated thus far. If you can't or don't want to subscribe, I appreciate you reading regardless—here's my Ko-Fi if you want to tip (which is also donated).

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MEGO, "Yessirskii"

Last year's Young Stoner Life compilation was overflowing volume-wise, with an uneven ratio of heaters-to-duds (as these things typically go)—but there were a few very solid keepers, I'll be sharing a few over the next few BD's. MEGO just sounds so good on this, kind of the perfect length for something so sweet-sounding—any longer and you'll be making a dentist's appointment.

Leaving Time, "Slip"

Longtime subscribers will recognize these Jacksonville guys as another iteration of a subgenre of rock that I've been attracted to as of late: a little grunge-y, a little shoegaze-y. Grungegaze? I'm not here to coin subgenre names, so let's not even start.

Bummer, "Magic Cruel Bus"

Speaking of subgenres: this is very undeniably pigfuck, correct? We never have quite enough of this flavor in rock it feels like, heavy and hooky and nasty ‎‎‎‎without tilting too far in any of those aforementioned directions. Among other things, it makes me wish Pissed Jeans were still an active thing.

Petite Amie, "Adiós"

Sweet little song from this Mexico City band, who are a little playful with the psych-pop stuff the same way so many French bands have been doing so as of late. If you're going to close your album with a song called "Adiós"—which is always a good move in general—you might as well make the song sound like it's literally waving goodbye.

Heart Attack Man, "Pitch Black"

When it comes to this type of punk/pop-punk/whatthefuckever, there has to be sort of a hard-nosed melodic edge to really get me going. By that measurement, Cleveland punkers Heart Attack Man's Thoughtz & Prayerz EP missed the mark for me—except for this song, in which Eric Egan's voice basically sounds like another guitar in the mix (a good thing).

AJ Tracey, "West Ten" [ft. Mabel]

The latest AJ Tracey album felt like a flop to me—the kind of half-hearted pop crossover gesture that, ironically, only worked when at its most crossover-iest points. The T-Pain feature is worth checking out, and of course there's this pleasantly chewy UKG flip. Can never go wrong when you go 2step.

The Hecks, "My Star"

Says a lot that I just assumed these guys were British. Hey, it's not that often these days that we get this kind of sound somewhere else! Anyway, this album from Chicago outfit the Hecks didn't make too much of an impression on me‎‎‎‎, but they take their time wonderfully on the title track, stretching that main hook into the kind of iridiscent new-wave bliss that's frequently sought after but hard to really nail down.

Spectral Wound, "Soul Destroying Black Debauchery"

Is Spectral Wound's A Diabolic Thirst the best American black metal album in...forever? At least one person on Twitter said so, so you know it's worth considering. All jokes aside, it really does rule, just total pitch-black expanses all over this thing. Was impossible to choose a favorite song, they're really good at maintaining this specific intensity throughout. Badass cover art, too.

Dying Wish, "Until Mourning Comes"

I suppose a theme of this Baker's Dozen is "songs that sound like they're almost not my thing, but basically are." (For the uninitiated or non-subscribing: There is almost never a theme, at least unintentionally.) Anyway, the sung chorus almost kills this for me, and that texture's presence in general is almost a dealbreaker for me regarding this band at large—but, there's just enough going on here that keeps me engaged regardless.

Bronze Nazareth and Recognize Ali, "Silver Spear Promise"

Pure comfort food old-head sounds here, if you're a certain kind of rap listener you might just find your eyes going blank as this washes over you. Nothing unfamiliar, explicitly so, but hey, when it works (even if it barely works), it works well enough. More of a trad gesture from the Mello Music Group camp, who typically release stuff that's a little more left-of-center than this type of dusty stuff.

Tygapaw, "Ownland"

Can always rely on the Naafi crew to hand out intense, tunnel-vision ‎‎‎‎techno like this. I was really digging into this Tygapaw album from 2020 right around the time Renaissance dropped, and it felt like pure cosmic providence.

chloe moriondo, "Fruity"

My friend Lindsay recommended this one to me. We've been seeing the hyperpop/digicore/whatever sounds gently fractured and disseminated into pure pop for a minute now, ‎this is one of the stronger examples. Longtime BD heads might find themselves thinking of Sophie Cates' (formerly Silver Sphere) "Football Game," which shares a little bit of DNA here, although I hear way more Charli XCX in this tune than Sophie's more sardonic vibes.

Christina Aguilera, "Te Deseo Lo Mejor"

I counted two keepers from the latest Christina Aguilera album, one of which I shared last year when it made the rounds as part of a teaser EP. This one has an easy-to-understand appeal, the bounce is lush and lovely and, of course, Christina more than holds her own. Would love to hear an entire album where she's working at this level, but it hasn't happened yet.‎

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Jamie Larson