Baker's Dozen: DRAM, Girlpool, and Echoes of the Past

Baker's Dozen: DRAM, Girlpool, and Echoes of the Past

Baker's Dozen is typically for paid subscribers, but I do them sometimes for free subscribers too, typically when I have a surplus of playlists queued up. This is one of those times! There'll also be a BD for paid subscribers on Friday, as usual. If you can't subscribe, I appreciate you reading regardless—here's my Ko-Fi if you want to tip.

Axel Boman, "Sottopassaggio" [ft. Miljon]

Another one from Axel, paying subscribers know I shared a track from his brilliant pair of albums LUZ and Quest for Fire in the last Baker's Dozen. That stutter near the end, classic Studio Barnhus stuff...I simply cannot get enough of their aesthetic, the only one person who does it better while "sounding like this" is probably Koze at this point.

Röyksopp, "There, Beyond the Trees"

Back when I interviewed Röyksopp last year (you can read that here), someone on Twitter mentioned to me how much they disliked the Profound Mysteries releases the duo put out last year. I feel like I have a more sympathetic ear to these guys than most (I even liked The Impossible End), but I get where that person was coming from—it's far from their most inspired material, but I did enjoy this sliver of squishy space disco reminiscent of the type of thing Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas seemingly conjure out of thin air. (It's also a little reminiscent of Björn Törske, who's a friend of Röyksopp as well as mentioned in the interview. Reading is fundamental!)

Kurt Vile, "Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone)"

At this point Kurt Vile has developed his own language when it comes to communicating through his music—his tics, his quirks, it's all him, he's forever in the zone. I love when he says on (watch my moves) track "Like Exploding Stones," “Thoughts become pictures become movies in my mind/Welcome to the KV horror drive in movie marathon/But I’m just kidding and I’m just playing.” It's the perfect KV lyrical sentiment, a little bit of introspection leavened by the ultimate realization that real life is simply just real life, something to be moved through with varying levels of difficulty but also to be enjoyed, lazily, when time affords us to. I find this music extremely comforting at this point, and not in a nostalgic "it's all background music" way—as off-the-cuff as KV can come off, it all feels intentional and purposeful, a perfectly charted lazy river course that keeps the horrors of existence just at arm's length while also not necessarily trying to hide anything, either.

DRAM, "Exposure"‎‎‎‎‎

From back when he was calling himself Shelly FKA DRAM, a whole...two years ago. No idea what it's all about, not looking it up, I'll figure it out at some point. Feels like DRAM has been a little overlooked since "Broccoli" went viral which is a shame, his talents are clear and evident and I love the type of R&B he's making, sensual and psychedelic in all the right places.

MJ Lenderman, "Toontown"

Another ‎hosanna for MJ Lenderman's Boat Songs, great record. Strongly reminds me of Built to Spill's There's Nothing Wrong With Love (the best BtS record, imo, fresh-pot-of-coffee-and-freshly-stoned-in-the-morning indie rock that makes the smallest sentiments and observations ("Did you find my Disney World?/Did it make you dizzy, girl?") sound like some revelation handed down from on high. Of course, both records are heavily indebted to Neil Young, too. Looking forward to hearing the Wednesday album, (puts on cool shades) I've been repping for them before it was popular to, love to see a good band win.

Beachy Head, "Hiddensee"

Beachy Head's self-titled debut from 2021 is simply great comfort-food shoegaze-adjacent indie from people who know the soft-and-fuzzy stuff very well, like Slowdive's Rachel Goswell and Christian Savill as well as Ryan Graveface of Graveface Records, whose other projects (including Dreamend and Casket Girls) I've always found enjoyable. I listened to this record a lot before knowing who was behind it, always a nice surprise when you find it all out.


I did Sam Dew's bio yeeeears ago, forgot this music existed, and then re-encountered it in one of my massive queues and was like, "Hold up..." He's decent, I hear a bit of a Miguel-lite thing in him at points, love the way the chorus sounds on this track. Would love to see him develop this sound more, this music seemingly languished in development hell on the label's end for long enough that I don't have high hopes though.

Lil Durk, "No Interviews"

With 7220, Lil Durk ran into the same problem a lot of massively popular rappers ran into last year: ‎‎‎His sound has become a bit of an aesthetic dead-end, no real sense of progression in terms of where he's pushing anything, he's 100% doing his thing and just like Lil Baby, Gunna, and others, he will remain massively popular for a while longer, but discerning listeners just need a little bit more at this point. (This is probably why Youngboy's recent pivot towards rage music feels so refreshing, after years of piano pain music balladry—like, just hearing something different, feels like cool water on a hot day, right?)

Maxo Kream, "THEY SAY"

Maxo's WEIGHT OF THE WORLD was probably his first true "miss" in terms of full-length releases, just didn't have the juice the way the last few records did. Of course, this is fine, it's not a noticeable dip, and Maxo's gift for storytelling and recollection remains supreme even as his flow becomes all-the-more instantly identifiable in terms of how he switches it up (or, more accurately, doesn't). ‎Of course, he also loves to do the beat-switch dealio he pulls off here, it's good to know what you're good at and every time he tries it out it's never not effective.

WONHO, "Ain't About You" [ft. Kiiara]

Way back when, I posted Kiiara's "I Still Do" and was sheepish and mock-outraged about my own taste for vapid, Equinox-core white-girl pop‎...that was stupid. Not posting the song specifically but trying to pretend that it's surprising I like shit like that, it certainly isn't, my lizard brain portion gets activated by what it gets activated by and, also, early on in this newsletter I wasn't speaking as much from a place of confidence as I do these days around here. Anyway, enough with the therapy, this song's good.

Girlpool, "Faultline"

People seem to cast Girlpool's Forgiveness as the flop so bad that it killed the band, which is unfortunate. For one, the record's actually decent despite some surprising and questionably advised aesthetic experiments; I mean, just listen to this fucking song, the chorus just aches and stares into the sky and wonders what's out there and if it will all come down one day and crush us for good, can you ask for anything better than that?‎ (Also, the flop of last year was unquestionably Bartees Strange's Farm to Table, but I sense there is absolutely no one ready to have that conversation, so, maybe, idk, we'll do that one five years from now.)

Kehlani, "melt"

Speaking of music that aches, openly and with pure radiance...I love Kehlani's music, she dips into vibes a lot but always seems to be channeling something true and sincere. There's a hippie-ish edge to what she does too, not dissimilar to Jhené Aiko, I way prefer what Kehlani does but Jhené‎ also has a place on the Best Songs of 2020 list I'm prepping (plug!). Anyway, lovely song, maybe one of her best to date, stream blue water road now, I think she's getting better with every record.

Maren Morris, "Circles Around This Town"

Maren Morris is honestly forever goated for calling Brittany Aldean "insurrection Barbie" (which is an "Apartheid Clyde"-level insult), ‎skipping the CMAs because everyone in country music is so fucking homophobic, and then going on Drag Race just to be like "sorry everyone in country is so fucking homophobic." I didn't love her latest record but this song is good. Whenever she says "I've been kind and I've been ruthless," my mind always expects her to rhyme it with "Ruth's Chris" (she does not). I went to a Ruth's Chris for the first time recently, it wasn't bad.

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Jamie Larson