Baker's Dozen: Snail Mail, Pink Sweat$, and New Spins on Old Sounds

Baker's Dozen: Snail Mail, Pink Sweat$, and New Spins on Old Sounds
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Baker's Dozen is a weekly thing for paid subscribers where I share a playlist of music I've been enjoying as well as some thoughts around it. All revenue generated from paid subscriptions is currently being donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Snoh Aalegra, "You"

Just found out Snoh Aalegra is born-and-raised Swedish...another addition to the country's largely impeccable legacy of pop music. ‎‎I've seen people compare Snoh to Sade—I'm not trying to hex myself by doing the same, but you can hear why. Another "need to listen to the latest album" case, also Ugh, Those Feels Again is simply a great R&B album title.

MUNA, "Pink Light"

Speaking of acts whose latest album I also have to listen to...I've had several reputable music writers say to me recently, "What is the deal with MUNA?" This was prompted by the sizable Pitchfork profile the band recently received, as well as the overall level of coverage around their latest album—and I get the question, to an extent. Sonically, MUNA are the exact opposite of reinventing the wheel; at their worst, they blend in with their many, many peers that sound like this, and at their best, they sound a little better than their many, ‎many peers that sound like this. Obviously, an amount of the enthusiasm around MUNA has to do with the fact that they're a band made up entirely of queer people, and as always I think we should be aiming for a better future in which the industries—both music and music writing—have more than one or two queer artists/bands to specifically rally around every quarter, and especially outside of Pride month too. Until then, there's going to continue to be a lot of making up for lost time, and perhaps the music isn't always going to be gobsmackingly original or singular, but by not more forcefully supporting queer people since the dawn of time, this is the scenario both industries find themselves facing regardless. It is what it is.

Pink Sweat$, "Waiting on You" [ft. Sabrina Claudio]

Unbelievable chorus here, the type of chorus that might even make you say, "Ugh, those feels again."

Requin Chagrin, "Première Vague"‎

Sometimes it feels like I woke up one day, and suddenly there were a thousand French bands making this kind of music. Some are better than others in terms of the full-album bang-for-your-buck experience, I'd say the latest Requin Chagrin album is in that category. Similar to MUNA, no wheel reinventing here, but when it's done this competently it's hard not to crack a smile at least. If anything, this sounds vaguely Swedish? Shout out to Snoh Aalegra! Or, at least, like, shout out to Shout Out Louds.

Snail Mail, "Mia"

Sad to say, but I really did not like Valentine. Lush was one of my favorite indie rock records in the back half of the 2010s‎, sounded classic to me, I hear Valentine as a step down in every conceivable way down to the vague conciliatory pop-rock flourishes you get from sophomore efforts like these. Devastating closing track though, serves as a reminder that she's still very talented and, to my ears at least, just missed the mark on a wider scale this last time around.

Sandro Perri, "Wrong About the Rain"

Vibes, no two ways about it. Canada seems to turn this stuff out the same way that France turns out post-MGMT stuff, reminds me that I need to listen to the latest Joseph Shabason-related project.

A Place to Bury Stran‎gers, "I Don't Know How You Do It"

Another song that sounds very Swedish! What is this, an IKEA? Can't hear this without thinking of the Raveonettes, so sweet and poppy and just a little sickly too. (Reminds me that the Raveonettes needle-drop in the latest Adam Curtis docuseries—which I still have not finished—was one of my favorite syncs of 2021.) A Place to Bury Strangers' "thing" wore out its welcome really quickly if you're someone who's not just grinding your teeth between DIY shows all the time, but I thought this song (and one or two others) from the latest album offered a nice and melodic new spin on what they are capable of doing. Sometimes you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Love, Burns, "Dear Claire"

(Homer Simpson voice) Mmm, Dunedin Sound. A lot of the rest of this record kind of sounds like the Doors though? Approach with caution.

Vanilla, "Tell"

Obviously I would be drawn to a "J Dilla, but make it chillout" thing, ‎‎‎coincidentally I just started reading Dilla Time...I recently saw Three Colours: Blue for the first time and it blew me away, after leaving the theater I threw this song on and, despite its relative sonic platitudes, found myself very emotionally overwhelmed by the beauty of art in general. Love it when that happens!

Lous and the Yakuza, "Amigo"

Here's a record that was underrated in 2020. I love what Lous and the Yakuza does, ‎her approach to pop just works for me on a textural level, it's playful. Apparently this popped up on the Gran Turismo 7 soundtrack? That's cool.

Ezra Furman, "My Teeth Hurt"

A great song about when your teeth hurt. Ezra's got a new album out soon I believe, that's exciting—Twelve Nudes is honestly a blast of an album, the kind of all-in-it rock music that can't help but recall The Monitor in how surging it sounds.

Yearning, "V"

If you've been enjoying all the screamo I've posted lately—hey, that's great! Here's some more. If not? Sorry, this should be the last song for a while though. At least a month, I think.

Holodrum, "Clean"

Huge British indie supergroup thing going on here, with members of Yard Act and Hookworms and Virginia Wing and other bands too piling on here. Promising stuff, this track sounds very Juan MacLean-as-a-rock-band to me.‎‎

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Jamie Larson