Baker's Dozen: M83, Charli XCX, and Songs I Can't Stop Looping

Baker's Dozen: M83, Charli XCX, and Songs I Can't Stop Looping

Baker's Dozen is a weekly thing I do for paid subscribers where I send out a playlist of songs I've been enjoying, along with some thoughts around those songs. All newsletter revenue continues to be donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds; we've raised $2,743.86 so far.

Big Thief, "Not"

I already laid out how I feel about Big Thief's prior anti-BDS ‎‎‎stance and how the music media covered it two months ago, back to the music. Is this their best song? Maybe "Mary" is a little better, that one is a personal favorite at least. Two Hands was my preference when it came to the band's 2019 releases, still haven't been able to connect on an album-length level with them since Capacity, maybe that'll change one day.

Charli XCX, "Warm" [ft. HAIM]

Anyone who was disappointed by Crash (me included)‎ should go back and revisit Charli....yikes. Really puts things in perspective. HAIM are basically useless here, but this one's a great example of how Charli can take the most sugary hook and throw it on loop endlessly, creating some sort of trippy pop mantra. She's a genius, even as she does occasionally falter.

Barker, "Utility"

Utility seems a touch underrated when it comes to crossover-y electronic records from the past five years, perhaps because its crossover appeal is quite limited compared to something like, say, Jon Hopkins (not hating) terms of Ostgut Ton releases though it's quite accessible and, at its peaks, absolutely gorgeous. Yesterday I was walking down the street and I heard a car blasting Lionel Richie's "Hello" right at the moment that closes out The Field's "A Paw in My Face," all of which is to say that a song like this reminds me of Axel Willner's own shimmering approach to patiently building techno.

Brittany Howard, "Stay High"

Brittany Howard, incredible singer, could not really get into Jaime at all, to the point where I was a little shocked by the critical adulation around it. But whatever, this isn't about me, nice little song here, kind of has a very "I don't like this album, but I like this song" feel to it.

Lightning Bug, "Vision Scraps"

For some reason I'd assumed that Lightning Bug were a Lucero-y country-rock band that I would have close to zero chance of getting into at this stage of my life...the name kind of makes them sound like that, right? As it turns out they're just solid shoegaze/drone rock, which I very much appreciate on its own merits. I don't think I've listened to the latest one yet? If I have and I don't remember, that's not a good sign.

James Blake, "If I'm Insecure"

Big time hater of the last decade of James Blake's work here, with the news that the latest album is easily the best thing he's done since the self-titled...I am tossing around a longer newsletter around James Blake, probably won't get around to writing it for a bit. Check out the record in the meantime, (Limmy voice) song of the summer.

Vic Spencer and Original Super Legend, "Cemetary Diet"

I think I've posted Vic Spencer here before? Decent album. Sad song!

Porches, "Watergetsinside"

All Day Gentle Hold! is probably right below Jazmine Sullivan and Jane Remover on my 2021 albums list, every time I go back to it I end up listening to it endlessly...this one especially, I will sometimes listen to for ten minutes straight. The breakdown two-thirds in is one of the most satisfying musical moments I've heard in indie in a minute, I think. I interviewed Aaron Maine last year if you want to read it here.

Sufjan Stevens, "Meditation II"

Sufjan dropped, like, four ambient albums last year and no one cared...they had some gems, I think this might've been my favorite track on all of them. He's very good at heart-tugging moments of beauty like this, one of my all-time favorite songwriters as ever.

Magdalena Bay, "You Lose!"

The best Neon Indian song of 2021, no question. (Alan! Where's the album???) I think Magdalena Bay's whole thing gets overthought sometimes; to me, they are just two people who make very solid pop music better than 98% of indie acts who are trying and failing to do similar, they clearly just have the inventiveness and overall goods that others do not. Longtime readers will remember that I posted another song from them a very long while ago, like back in 2020.

The Highwomen, "Cocktail and a Song"

Great song on a great album‎‎‎‎‎, what else is there to say. Still haven't listened to the latest Maren Morris or Amanda Shires albums yet, regular readers know that I love Brandi Carlile of course.

Trupa Trupa, "Remainder"

Part of the fun of having done this newsletter for long enough is that I can constantly go back now and be like "Last time I talked about this band..." ‎The novelty hasn't worn off yet! Anyway, the last time I talked about this band it was about how I didn't really connect with their latest album from last year; this one was much more my speed, kind of a Deerhunter/Sonic Youth dual worship thing going on here.

M83, "Temple of Sorrow"

The second Digital Shades installment did not even come close to holding a candle to the first, but that's what twelve years gets you I suppose. I wonder if we'll ever get another M83 album, Junk wasn't great but it was more interesting than what most other people do, would love to have him back in the mix.‎


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Jamie Larson