Baker's Dozen: Lizzo, DIIV, and Albums I Never Want to Hear Again

Baker's Dozen: Lizzo, DIIV, and Albums I Never Want to Hear Again

Baker's Dozen is usually for paid subscribers, but I did another one. As I've already let my paid subscribers know ahead of time, in general I'll be doing more free Baker's Dozens moving forward—they're fun for everyone (I hope), and more importantly they pile up sometimes so I want to get the playlists out while I still have their music fresh in my mind. Also, I have a tendency to overexplain everything that I do!

All revenue from the newsletter is currently being donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds; $2,563.52 has been donated thus far, and I'll be offering a donation update on Twitter tomorrow. At some point in the next few weeks or months I might reassess how much I'll be donating going forward—the donation aspect won't be going away, but depending on how my finances are looking it might be a little less frequent. I'll keep you updated if things change for transparency's sake.

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J. Holiday, "Gemini"

J. Holiday is someone I barely thought about when he was regularly making music, so it's no surprise that his first album in eight years was a, um, surprise. There's some good straightforward R&B cuts on here, a little no-frills in terms of the traditionalism if you lean that way. Nothing that reinvents the wheel (this track included), but there's a certain base level of competence that makes the sound feel comfortable regardless.‎‎

Andy Bell, "No Getting Out Alive"

Spacier (if that was even possible) Spiritualized vibes here, like a cleaned-up version of the expanse of something like "Cop Shoot Cop." I've listened to more Andy Bell recently more than I've listened to myself, and that's partially because his solo album from this year was so goddamn long...that, on top of the GLOK record he put out last year, which also featured multiple 12-minute-plus electronic songs. The name of the game with both releases is more quantity than quality, but I mean, this is the guy from Ride—sometimes there's a gem or two buried deep within. (I'll be featuring a GLOK track on a future BD too.)

Eddie Vedder, "The Haves"

Something so brutally and beautifully simple about this song, the appeal of its ache is pretty easy to understand even (especially?) if you're not a Pearl Jam superfan (which I am not). Reminds me of the "Last Kiss" cover. In general I actually very much enjoyed Eddie Vedder's solo album from this year, ‎very sincere and melodically rich music that's a cut above what you might expect from him if you are Pearl Jam-averse (again, also me).

Mary J. Blige, "No Idea"

The new Mary J. album was just okay compared to her impressive body of work, but I love the way she commands this track—those drums just roll over everything, and she's still in charge. No one can do it like she can, still.

Wilco, "Citizens"

Ode to Joy was a sneakily sinister album from Wilco, I think—there's more quietude than usual, but a lot of it feels so unnerving‎‎. Even as Jeff Tweedy continues to prove himself a prodigious and reliable songwriter, it does seem like the band are underrated for their ability to conjure certain moods atmospherically in their work. (Cruel Country is another good example of this.) Won't be the last time I say this, but they are truly one of the greatest American bands of the last 30 years, astounding that they are still giving us regularly solid material after all this time.

DIIV, "Like Before You Were Born"

This is nuts, but I actually had a dream last night that I was running through this playlist and landed on this DIIV song that sounded nothing like the actual song—and I was like, "Wait, how do I find the actual song again?" Dreaming of newsletter playlists...not a great sign, I fear. Anyway, Deceiver is absolutely the strongest DIIV album to great, I think they've gotten better with every album and I can't wait to hear what they've got coming up next. The textures (which always matter with "this stuff") are simply immaculate.

Young Thug, "Diamonds Dancing" [ft. Gunna and Travis Scott]

Last one I'll be sharing from the YSL comp, the appeal is easy here. Hate to say this but I love how Travis sounds here...his whole sound (including his delivery) continues to be so empty but with a certain psychedelic opulence nonetheless‎‎, paint me as basic if you must.

Cold Moon, "Nu"

Speaking of music for basics...I found the latest album from this sorta-emo-ish-supergroup (featuring members of The Story So Far and Set Your Goals) to be plain and average in all the wrong ways, but this song sounded nice enough to me, just barely pleasant college rock-esque stuff that won't move mountains, but will probably sound decent in the car.

Playboi Carti, "Not PLaying"‎

Whole Lotta Red, best rap album of the decade so far? The argument could be made! Not even sure what else there is to say beyond that, Carti is simply so good at what he does. I still don't know why the counter guy at Edith's tried to roast me for wearing a Carti coincidence that I haven't been back since.

Daphne X, "Transactions in Time"

‎‎Greek producer Daphne X's 2020 album Interference Waves is definitely on the more obtuse end of things when we're talking experimental electronic drone stuff, I can't say I took to it too strongly myself but it's cool that she's doing her thing. This subtly mutating loop of a track appealed to me though, sounds like someone slowly and gently knocking around inside of a giant bell.

Lizzo, "2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)"

Maybe it was last month, maybe it was earlier this month, but while listening to Lizzo's mostly terrible new album Special I asked on Twitter what a personal statement from Lizzo—something that didn't seem like it was made for the type of uplift that deodorant commercials seek for syncs—would sound like. Well, to be fair, this single—which is the only cut that I truly enjoy hearing—is pretty much the closest you get in a personal vein from her. "He call me Melly/ He squeeze my belly/ I'm too embarrassed/ To say I like it," she sings in the second verse—a reference to her boyfriend Myke Wright's nickname for her, and by extension a rare flash of intimacy when it comes to who Lizzo is. It's a bit of an Easter Egg-y thing, but the detail deepens the meaning of the song, I think—being unsure of whether new love really actually is love, acknowledging that danger of opening yourself up to someone else and being vulnerable. It's sweet, and revealing; if she gave even a sliver of this kind of window into her inner life more often, the music would undeniably be better for it.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, "Galleon Ship"

After I listened to Ghosteen once, I deemed it an incredible work of art that I had no interest in ever listening to again—the pain it was birthed from just seeps through every corner of the record, ‎I obviously cannot relate to what Nick Cave has been through in the past seven years but after hearing it I certainly understand how he hurts. For some masochistic reason, I recently crawled through Ghosteen again at a snail's pace to try to isolate a song to include on a BD playlist, and it felt like pulling yourself across the floor while covered in broken glass. Here's a stunning song from it, let's never speak of this again.

Kim Gordon, "Hungry Baby"

Great song on a very solid album. As long as we've been talking Whole Lotta Red, there's a song on No Home Record that sounds like it'd work pretty well on that album, "Paprika Pony" specifically. Officially taking this moment to lobby for a Kim Gordon-Playboi Carti crossover, stranger things have happened overall.‎

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Jamie Larson