Baker's Dozen: Spencer Krug, Jay Glass Dubs, and a Funny Disclaimer or Two

Baker's Dozen: Spencer Krug, Jay Glass Dubs, and a Funny Disclaimer or Two

Baker's Dozen is typically for paid subscribers, but I do free installments on occasions where I have a lot of playlists backed up—and I've been dealing with a serious backlog. (These can be harder to write the "older" the playlists are, too.)

Also, to be candid, even though the music industry is still very broken it's more operational than it was when I started this newsletter, which has meant a lot of interview subjects bailing on me since an independently operating publication like this is very far down on the totem pole of important press. (I recently had an avant-garde electronic composer's PR turn me down for an interview request while telling me that they were aiming for "Pitchfork only"; take a wild guess as to whether they were actually successful.)

So I have two interviews that are evergreen that I've been holding onto for when I'm not so flush with playlists, and I might be publishing one of them next week. Anyway, I hope everyone is enjoying these! As ever, all newsletter revenue is currently being donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds; paid subscribers have raised $2,860.53 so far.


Sui Zhen, "Being a Woman"

OK, first of two disclaimers kicking off this installment, and this isn't the kind-of-funny one: I did the bio for Sui Zhen's Losing, Linda, one of those projects where I was happy to help with it since she makes the type of music I typically find myself drawn to anyway. Losing, Linda is a good example in general of why I continue to turn to Cascine for interesting left-field pop albums...even when I'm not into what they do (which is pretty rare) they're almost always putting something ‎forth that has some purpose of intent behind the art itself. It's music that can be fun to think about, whether or not you think it's fun to listen to it (which, to be clear, I often do!).

Vivian Girls, "Waiting in the Car"

Second, kind-of-funny disclosure that's really more of a story: I went to high school with/in the same area as Vivian Girls. While in high school, Cassie made it very clear that she thought I was wack as a person, which, fine, probably correct, whatever; an estranged friend told me at one point that she wanted to make it clear that she wouldn't give me a ride to a Microphones show because I "wasn't cool," despite the fact that I had no plans to attend the show. Which, fine, whatever! Fast-forward six or seven years, Vivian Girls are the talk of the town, I like a decent amount of the music a lot, because, like, I can enjoy good music even when it's made by people who have explicitly made it clear they don't like me. 2010, I'm just starting at Pitchfork, and I receive a very typically-for-2010-Pitchfork massive-waste-of-time list of bands/artists/musicians to reach out to in order to get an idea of what they're working on. One of them is Cassie. Uh, OK, haha, let's see how this goes? Unsurprisingly, I get a warm and welcoming reply back, I guess since I was working at Pitchfork? That's what it had to be, because, let's flash forward another 18 months or so when the site gives a big thumbs-down to the band's third album (which didn't make a huge impression on me, but like many bands that they are "like" Vivian Girls are more of a song-by-song thing for me, so not a big deal to me if the album's not a knockout). I had no real sway in what albums "got" review-wise at that point, but I guess Cassie assumed I did, because it got back to me through the same estranged friend (who, let's be clear, isn't exactly Sy fucking Hersh when it comes to trustworthy sources, so who knows) that she believed I was responsible for the album getting panned as...retribution...for...the Microphones show. Either way, something was definitely up, because Cassie hung out with Ryan Schreiber a lot at shows around that time, so as a Pitchfork employee who ran into Ryan a lot I'd find myself in her company, and I'd usually get a hard stare with zero words, just total silence. OK! Anyway, Vivian Girls staged a reunion in 2019 with a new album that was fairly solid, when everything lines up their Slumberland-y sound hits a real sweet spot for me because, well, that's one of my favorite types of "indie" music. Shame about all the drama! I didn't ask for it!

Moonchild, "Too Good"

Moonchild have been knocking about for a decade now but I hadn't checked them out until their album from this year, Starfruit—very solid stuff, very few skips, it's coffee-shop R&B for certain but you can't deny that it hits when it's done well. Love the way the instrumentation contains subtle flourishes amidst what is very clearly vibe-setting music.

LANNDS, "o.o.w"

Jacksonville duo, if you've been faintly aware of the type of indie to come out of Florida over the last decade you shouldn't be too surprised here. Very nice, they have a Magdalena Bay thing going on sonically, I caught this through the deluxe edition of their lotus EP that saw re-release this year.

‎Spencer Krug, "Having Discovered Ayahuasca"

Fading Graffiti was easily my favorite Spencer Krug release in a very long time, I always find his music interesting even when I'm not 100% on his wavelength but for this record he really stripped things down to a one-man power-trio type of deal, or at least as much of what that could sound like in his hands. When it comes to songs about COVID, he manages to strike a note that feels true and not heavy-handed either, especially on the closer "Pin a Wing ‎Above the Door." One thing that song shares with "Having Discovered Ayahuasca" is possessing a somewhat obtuse but still tension-setting framework that kind of explodes into something grander but still connected with what came before it—like, that guitar line that comes in during the last minute of this song. That is classic Krug right there! You may or may not have checked out my interview with him earlier this year, head here if you haven't.

Ichiko Aoba, "Sagu Palm's Song"

Beautiful song that reminds me of (and predates) Yeule's "Don't Be So Hard on Your Own Beauty," both of which also remind me of Broken Social Scene's "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl." Park that car, drop that phone, etc.

Jay Glass Dubs, "Dots on Nails"

Funny cover art. This has the kind of vibe you'd imagine hearing in the opening 40 minutes of a DJ set, or maybe a BBC Radio 1 (does the voice) Essential Mix.‎‎ Airy, menacing, sneakily melodic, with hints of clattering dub but leaning more towards the slo-mo techno end of things.

macaroom and Chiku Toshiaki, "326"

This sounded like Múm to me. Remember Múm? Stuff like this is a good reminder that when we say things like "There aren't enough bands that sound like Múm anymore," we're often talking about the North America/UK side of indie. There's music happening all over the world! We just have to, y'know, listen to it.

Jerreau, "RIDE DEATH" [ft. Kaine]

Good song, gorgeous beat, great hook. Jerreau was in a group called Fly Union in the last decade, they never made it on to my radar but I really enjoyed his 2020 release.

Material Girl, "On My Way Out"

Very impressive post-Dilla collagist thing going on with Philadelphia producer Material Girl's 2020 album Tangrams, it heads into super-obtuse territory more than once but is worth the journey, especially when it hits on spots of bliss like this.

Natalie Gardiner, "Forever"

Zero skips on Natalie Gardiner's 6 EP from 2020, really lush neo-soul that might be comfort food if you're plenty familiar with the genre—but, like, what's wrong with being comfortable anyway?

Karina, "Teko"

Very Finnish indie here (when it comes to how this stuff sounds, iykyk). Karina are very good at triggering a sense of massive anthemic uplift at a moment's notice, music like this obviously never goes out of style even when it comes close to sounding cheugy in the "gimme all the feels" department.

Mourn, "It's a Frog's World"

So true. Mourn have become a low-key favorite of mine over the years, feel like they get better with every album at this point...funny that they once got a Pitchfork Rising and have felt increasingly overlooked since, even as it's clear that they continue to really tighten their hooks and overall songwriting. When it comes to coverage, nothing is ever guaranteed!‎‎‎‎‎‎

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Jamie Larson