Baker's Dozen: Death Cab for Cutie, Babyface Ray, and New Surprises From Artists I Don't Like

Baker's Dozen: Death Cab for Cutie, Babyface Ray, and New Surprises From Artists I Don't Like

Baker's Dozen is a weekly thing for paid subscribers where I share a playlist of music along with some critical thoughts around it all. I didn't do one last week because I was traveling, but I'm back now. I may be doing more of these in general in the future, but I'll send through a housecleaning email for all readers next week about everything. Oh, and all revenue generated from this newsletter is still going to the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Death Cab for Cutie, "Man In Blue"

Something from the last EP while we wait to see how disappointed we'll end up being from the forthcoming Death Cab album. I have a promo but haven't listened yet, considering that I've given multiple negative reviews and basically had Ben Gibbard hang up on me when I interviewed him two years ago, ‎‎‎I should consider myself lucky(?) that they're sending me advances at all. Everyone has their own "Death Cab fell off after" choice, and it's Narrow Stairs for me—but they continue to pull out one or two good songs per album regardless (also, the Ben Gibbard solo LP from 2013 is very underrated). This one reminds me of "A Lack of Color," also a reminder that diminishing returns are the name of Death Cab's game at this point.

KMRU, "Well"

Wasn't in love with this album as a whole but this is nice, you can hear the Mego-ness in it.

Beast Nest, "Kim, People Are Dying"

Great song title, or at least unexpectedly cheeky for music that sounds like this. Record is more interesting than it is good but definitely worth a spin—Bay Area, has that 100% Silk-esque glow to it so the location makes sense.

Amos Lee, "It's Real"

Was kind of surprised to hear this and enjoy it from Amos Lee, an artist whose music I am typically not moved by or interested in. Not a Real Estate cover! The light synth touch in the chorus makes it here I think, without it this song would still be pretty but perhaps a touch less interesting. Real sitting-on-the-knife's-edge "is it good or bad" situation here.

half-alive, "Hot Tea"

Would it surprise you if I said that these guys are religious? Not in a Westboro Baptist Church way of course, more in the twenty one pilots way. Of course, these guys have a few things in common with 21p (okay, maybe not the catchiest nickname): a fondness for lower-case styling, an amorphously murky pop-rock sound indebted to millennial indie and TV on the Radio (I wrote about this sensation for Vulture a while ago). Not even sure I like this, but more impressed with how much of a direct rip of Halsey's "Without Me" (a great song) it represents.‎‎

SAULT, "Monsters"

Haven't gotten to the latest SAULT album yet but was digging through the other records last month, plenty to like. On a purely sonic level, feels like this song would've been a blog hit in the mid-late 2000s, right in that Go! Team/chillwave ‎sweet spot point of intersection.

Cloakroom, "Lambspring"

The latest Cloakroom album is perfect for anyone who wants Beach House to sound a little heavier (and, when it comes to that band's most recent effort, ‎for the albums to be a little shorter). Always feels like what makes or breaks dream-pop-style music in general is how much they can sell the back half of a song to you, and I'm definitely buying into this one specifically.

Oklou, "fall"

On the more edgeless side of the hyperpop/digicore/whatever scale, but still plenty engaging. Love the details in Oklou's production overall, excited to hear where she takes her music in the future. Opening for Caroline Polachek currently, which makes sense.


Serious case of deja vu here, did I actually share this already under the guise of it being on the last (but not latest) Dreamville comp? I literally just realized this while typing this paragraph out now. I'm just...not gonna check and assume I didn't, and if I did we can all have a laugh about how funny this is. If I did and you want to email me to yell at me, do your thing, I won't be mad.

Belle and Sebastian, "Jill Pole"

From the Days of the Bagnold Summer soundtrack. Belle and Sebastian are always just so good at instrumental work like this, one of their more undervalued traits I think—the kind of thing you could imagine the Avalanches sampling, possibly.

Babyface Ray, "Tunnel Vision"

The Babyface Ray album was just okay, but the peaks came from spacey beats like these, where Ray is just floating over the production and doing his thing. FACE was a little too big-swing-breakout-moment to stick to one sound specifically, but it's nice to imagine what kind of project he could turn out if he really stuck to this approach throughout.

Snoop Dogg, "We Don't Gotta Worry No More" [ft. Wiz Khalifa]

It's widely accepted at this point that Snoop Dogg hasn't made good music in at least 15 years, correct? He's pure iconography now, someone whose artistry doesn't really factor into what he does currently—which is fine, he's plenty successful at this point regardless (and, as we all know, being good at making music rarely translates into real success anyway). This is a nice surprise from him though, something that feels distinctly Drake-y in a 2012-2015 way, sweet and slightly intimate while also remaining as low-stakes as you can get.

Your Old Droog and Tha God Fahim, "I Won't Stop"

"Making you care about bullshit is the greatest scam/ For years I went through life/ Totally forgetting how great I am." That's real. Even as I continue to enjoy this series of releases and Your Old Droog's output in general, I continue to be unable to think about him without remembering when people thought he was Nas doing a Burial thing or something. I think he even mentions it on this tape! Just one of those things where the association might never be shaken.‎‎

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Jamie Larson