Baker's Dozen: Danny Brown, Ducks Ltd., and Julia Roberts Going In

Baker's Dozen: Danny Brown, Ducks Ltd., and Julia Roberts Going In
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Baker's Dozen is a weekly thing for paid subscribers where I share music that I've been listening to and/or enjoying, as well as some thoughts around that music. As long as I can afford to, all revenue from the newsletter is being donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds; $2,563.52 has been donated so far.

Angel Olsen, "Endgame"

I've listened to the new Angel Olsen once and thought it was spectacular, looking forward to returning—in the meantime, here's my favorite song from All Mirrors, the kind of melody that gets stuck in my head on loop for days on end. At the time of release I rated All Mirrors quite highly, upon revisiting recently my enthusiasm has dampened just a tad, but ‎‎its peaks combine the raw intimacy of her early work with the cosmic drama that she conjured on Woman and All Mirrors. The new one is something else entirely, I think—what an artist.

Destroyer, "It's in Your Heart Now"

Another "what an artist" artist. Labyrinithitis sounds like a peak for the past decade of Dan Bejar's career, to me—I'd say it's better and more thrilling than Kaputt (a record I enjoyed on first contact but did not have much staying power for me compared to, say, Destroyer's Rubies or Streethawk: a Seduction o‎r City of Daughters), the synth work is so sharp and yet also so dreamy, like floating along a lazy river. So funny that a guy who's so verbose can really cut you to the core just by repeating, "It's in your heart now." A deeply affecting song from someone who, although I am a lifelong fan of, I have not always appreciated for their ability to be deeply affecting.

Ducks Ltd., "Old Times"

Wow, I love Ducks Ltd., a band whose sound is engineered specifically to appeal to the sounds of indie rock that are closest to my heart: fuzzy Slumberland sweetness, the winding and ecstatic pop of New Zealand greats the Chills. Their debut from last year, Modern Fiction, is as good as it gets when it comes to this kind of music.

Danny Brown, "uknowhatimsayin¿"

The most recent Danny Brown album was underappreciated, I think. What was misconstrued as a victory lap of sorts actually sounded like someone finally reaching a place of contentment in their art and in their life, and the title track kind of embodies that vibe. Paul White does a great job here of evoking the feel, if not the explicit sound, of Q-Tip's ‎‎sonic perspective (the beats he handled himself on this record are more honking and dusty, not a criticism, just a different style).

Aldous Harding, "Staring at the Henry Moore"

What a glorious weirdo Aldous Harding is. Warm Chris is, as ever, another record from her that sounds like a doll sitting in the corner clutching a knife, ominousness slowly revealing its own sinister layers with every second you affect your gaze on it. I like it a little less than Designer, which felt more ornate and wild compared to these slightly more hermetic constructions, but I love her regardless. When her voice cracks into that "Sometimes..." at 1:19—that's the kind of thing you come to her for.

Thou, Emma Ruth Rundle, and Mizmor, "Night"

The last one from the Sacred Bones comp that I'll be sharing. Another Zola Jesus cover! Not too surprising multiple acts reached for her work on this record, of all the music in the Sacred Bones catalogue hers is probably the easiest to transmute into something different in terms of melodic straightforwardness (can you imagine trying to cover, like, a Caleb Landry Jones song?). Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle continue to be an unholy force when paired together.

Brandi Carlile, "Right on Time"

What can I say, this is just the type of song that Brandi Carlile can make with her eyes closed, and I mean that as an extremely high compliment. She's full of power when working on this level, an artist I very much appreciate at this point.

PONY, "Chokecherry"

Another excellent entry in the post-Paramore, Elastica-wave subgenre of crunchy, melodic pop-rock that the last few years have been awash in. PONY would make for great touring partners with Olivia Rodrigo, or Charly Bliss; maybe the three should hit the road together.

‎‎‎‎Rejoice, "Damnation No Longer Hurts"

One thing about damnation, when it no longer hurts you feel no pain. Unspeakably badass vibes here, does a lot with not a ton in just under three minutes.

Skullcrusher, "Storm in Summer"

Skullcrusher, now there's a name for an artist or band who'd make a song that's called "Damnation No Longer Hurts." This isn't the first time I've featured Skullcrusher's music, and it won't be the last since I believe she has a full-length on the way. She's a strong singer and songwriter who's getting better with every release, excited to hear the directions she continues in.

Andy Bell, "Plastic Bag (Pye Corner Audio Remix)"

This remix of Andy Bell's debut single from 2019 is, on the whole, more texturally engaging than the bulk of his very long solo album from earlier this year—but, I'm getting ahead of myself, since I'll be featuring a song from there in a few BD's from now, so just enjoy this for the time being.

Miguel, "Triangle Love"

Excellent deployment of one of the most insane moments in modern cinema here—specifically, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts' big scene in Closer. When Julia Roberts yells, "We do everything, that people who HAVE SEX do!"...shout out to Nicole Kidman, even heartbreak feels good in a place like this. Not a ton of attention paid to Miguel's Art Dealer Chic Vol. 4 last year, I'm assuming possibly because of the sexual misconduct allegation from circa War and Leisure (which, full disclosure, I wrote the bio for prior to the allegation's emergence) ‎‎‎that was thoughtfully investigated in SPIN by Rich Juzwiak. It's a piece that's worth reading if you've engaged with and enjoyed Migu‎el's music in the past.

Raf Rundell, "Ample Change" [ft. Lias Saoudi]

I've enjoyed Raf Rundell's work as part of the 2 Bears‎ alongside Hot Chip's Joe Goddard; his album from last year is more on the dreamy side than his other body-moving fare, but the highlights (like this one) lock into lush, peaceful grooves that stay true to the overall energy communicated in his other work.

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Jamie Larson