Baker's Dozen: Father John Misty, Kelly Rowland, and Coldplay's Weird Era

Baker's Dozen: Father John Misty, Kelly Rowland, and Coldplay's Weird Era

Baker's Dozen is usually for paid subscribers of Larry Fitzmaurice's Last Donut of the Night newsletter, but today it's free. A lot of people have signed up in the last few weeks, so it's a good time to give those new readers (welcome!) a taste of what you get with a paid subscription, which is currently $3/month or $30/year. If you can't pay for a subscription, I appreciate you reading regardless—here's my Ko-Fi if you feel like tipping.

Lights Fluorescent, "Palace Walls"

Hazy ambient pop that namechecks Another Green World within the first minute...extremely on-the-nose, but I'll happily take it when it's done this well. Lights Fluorescent's 2019 album The Oldest Sons of the Oldest Sons sounds like something that Orchid Tapes would release, or even the type of spectral style that was in vogue circa the emergence of Bradford Cox's Atlas Sound project—bit surprising, then, that it comes from musician-to-the-indie-stars Dave Harrington ‎‎and Benjamin Jay of underrated house duo Benoit & Sergio. Just more proof that you can't really pigeonhole anyone these days.

Coldplay, "Old Friends"

I checked out of a lot of late Q3 + Q4 releases in 2019 due to (gestures at depression in the distance), so it took me a while to get around to Coldplay's Everyday Life. Weird fucking record, man—they've kind of established themselves as something of a collective Phil Collins presence over the last decade, I think, but Everyday Life is much more on the Peter Gabriel tip, plenty of questionable-but-hey-you-did-it-anyway "world music" (say this in Coldplay's voice, not mine) flourishes‎ and vague (but never quite concrete) political gestures. An interesting mess, at this point I prefer them in airhead-pop mode...there are a few vacuous anthems on the record that are also pleasurable on a lizard-brained level, but this very quiet and unassuming song stood out to me for how un-Coldplay it actually is. You don't really expect something like this from them anymore, but then again, they're always more surprising than people expect, too.

Xeno & Oaklander, "Raingarden"

The latest Xeno & Oaklander album, Vi/deo from 2021, is their strongest to date I think—they've never sounded so lush, and they've found the perfect balance between the relative stridency of their early work and embracing something that tilts poppier. Coldwave, it's always in vogue, huh? Or, at the least, it's more like bugs in the dark—always moving, even when you're not paying attention to it, and if you're gonna shine a light to see where they are you better be quick about it too.

Alabaster DePlume, "Mrs Calamari"

Alabaster DePlume's GOLD is a classic "almost" record for me, in which many of my peers celebrate an album and I'm just "almost" there with it, but not quite. Whatever, this doesn't need to be interrogated too much. It's a record that's occasionally very pretty and snake-like, songs like this kind of just lounging around but maybe taking up a little more space than you noticed (in a good way).

Dām-Funk, "Sun Gospel"

‎‎‎Some lush, skittering techno from Dām-Funk's 2021 record Architecture III, he is generally always in his bag. Love the loose feel here, as well as all the way the rhythmic patterns sound like stones skipping across a pond.

Bun B and Cory Mo, "Hesitate" [ft. Talib Kweli, David Banner, and Tobe Nwigwe]

Love the beat on this, can't say I have much use for it otherwise (no disrespect to Bun B, all disrespect to Talib Kweli).

Kelly Rowland, "Black Magic"

Kelly Rowland was unfortunately in the news late last year for defending Chris Brown after he was ‎‎righteously booed at the American Music Awards. Kelly: You simply do not have to hand it to him. Jordin Sparks also spoke out in defense of him at the time, but somehow her recent comments about "No Air" not winning a Grammy were worse? Anyway, I might write about Chris Brown at some point some day, but now is not the time, for now just enjoy this highlight from Kelly's 2021 album K, which had a few more solid songs too.

Father John Misty, "Buddy's Rendezvous"

Chloe and the Next 20th Century was Father John Misty's first real "miss" for me, after a discography that, by my count, contains two classics (I Love You, Honeybear and ‎God's Favorite Customer), one great record (Fear Fun), and one album that my wife loves more than anyone else I know (Pure Comedy, which, to be clear, I like too). Stuff just didn't line up for me on this one, the aesthetic flourishes felt suffocating, the songwriting didn't hit me as hard as it used to...of course, he can do something very nice like this in his sleep at this point, which I don't mind. Just a "maybe next time" affair for me, personally.

CHUNG HA, "Comes N Goes"

‎CHUNG HA's Querencia from 2021 is just a very solid and adventurous pop album, changes things up constantly and delivers banger after banger. I love how starry-eyed the bridge-chorus section sounds on this song, it's a specific thing that I hear in music sometimes and it always elicits a feeling of awe when it hits.

Kevin Gates, "Fairytale"

Kevin Gates will say anything. This isn't a criticism, even though a decent amount of the time he's saying stuff where you are like, "Should you be saying this?" (You may or may not remember him having sex with his cousin; if not, now you know.)‎ Along with his obvious musical gifts, Gates is possibly one of the most candid rappers alive at this point; when he says it, he means it, and sometimes it's a wild one-liner and other times it goes down like it does in the middle of this song, when he talks about being molested in his home as a child and how he later confronted his attacker with a gun. It's totally disarming and captivating, especially as he reflects on how the experience affected his own nature; there is simply no rapper on his level that his like him, period.

Wet Bed Gang, "Faço a Minha"

Wet Bed Gang, what a name. And here I thought dry sheets were something to be proud of! OK enough with the Diet Letterman stuff from me, these guys are Portuguese, the beat is sick and slick, kind of not unlike something you'd hear from the Travis Scott Extended Universe perhaps. Vibes.

Davido, "Fall"

Maybe my favorite Davido song to date still, that "I'm in love with youuuuu" chorus is just so infectious, the entire song literally sounds like falling action which is pretty genius too. Obviously Davido has suffered some terrible personal tragedy recently if you did not know, incredibly sad and not much more to say about it other than that.‎‎

Floorplan, "Brothers + Sisters"

Robert Hood, legend, gotta give it up. This stuff sounds so effortless and hard-hitting, I could listen to it for hours.‎

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Jamie Larson