Baker's Dozen: Sudan Archives, Mount Eerie, and Some Good Old-Fashioned Indie Rock

Baker's Dozen: Sudan Archives, Mount Eerie, and Some Good Old-Fashioned Indie Rock

Baker's Dozen is a regular thing for paid subscribers of Larry Fitzmaurice's Last Donut of the Night newsletter; it comes with a playlist and some stray thoughts around the music I've been listening to lately. All newsletter continues to be donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds; we've raised $3,313.73 so far.

Malibu, "Nana (Like A Star Made For Me)"

Malibu's One Life was a very underrated record from 2019, beautiful and ominous ambient synth clouds that exist right on the edge of noise (Malibu also had a solid contribution to PAN's increasingly esteemed-with-time Mono No Aware compilation).‎‎‎ New Malibu album should be coming next year, exciting stuff.

Anamanaguchi, "Air On Line"

Anamanaguchi are one of those bands where, whenever I listen to them, I'm like, "Why am I not listening to this band more?" They exist on the cusp of several electronic styles—chiptune-y stuff, EDM-leaning melodic house, straight-up electro-pop—and miraculously avoid cringe territory through sheer commitment to what they do. This track reminds me a lot of Madeon's really good stuff.

Sudan Archives, "Iceland Moss"

I did Sudan Archives' bio way, way back in, like, 2018—when her sound was a little more sparse and elemental, but still plenty promising. Every record from her seems to be a huge level up, this year's N‎‎atural Brown Prom Queen sounded excellent to me on first listen and I'm looking forward to running it back in the future...been revisiting Athena from 2019, another very strong album, the chorus to this song gets stuck in my head on repeat quite often.

Methyl Ethel, "Neon Cheap"

Really thought this was female-identifying vocals on first encounter but it does not seem that way! Methyl Ethel's fourth album Are You Haunted? has a good name and some very solid songs in its slightly-left-of-center art-dance-pop approach; it came out on Future Classic which is kind of the Aussie hub for all sorts of more straightforward electro-pop fare, but there's a certain grit and oddball appeal here that wouldn't put this out of place on, like, Arbutus.

Blue Hawaii, "L.O.V.E. (DJ Kirby Remix)"

Speaking of Arbutus-adjacent acts...over the past few years Blue Hawaii shook things up and went in the direction of straight-up house music instead of the increasingly grayscale electro-pop they were previously pursuing. It suits them well! The My Bestfriend's House EP (haha) from this year is very solid, I'll share an original cut from it a few weeks from now but this DJ Kirby remix is also excellent stuff.

Big Nothing, "Always On My Mind"

Have to imagine the band name is an Elliott Smith hat-tip of sorts. Increasingly (as in, like, over the past six years) Philadelphia has become pretty much the only major U.S. city that is cranking out dependable indie rock acts, and these guys are no exception. Their second album Dog Hours, from this year, is very nourishing and sounds good at dusk as well as in the morning; if you've ever listened to the Lemonheads It's a Shame About Ray over and over again, you'll find plenty to like here.‎‎‎

Liam Benzvi, "My Temptation"

More than a decade and a half on, Terrible Records are still putting out records that carry their very specific sonic perspective—a lil '80s, some synths, a smidge of new-wave atmospherics, the type of stuff that's driven a lot of over-and-underground indie and pop in the last five years basically. But Terrible continue to find good acts offering some chewy textures in this vein, and the very Terrible-y (but not, y'know, actually terrible-y) Liam Benzvi's Acts of Service is the latest example of that. Sometimes this music sounds so early-2010s to me, like I'm instantly transported to waiting on that ridiculous staircase leading to the bathroom in Glasslands...but, again, Benzvi is doing it right, some sophisti-pop stuff going on here I'm sure the sophisti-pop people would say, I hear some Scritti Politti as well as some Neon Indian, who I also hear a lot of Scritti Politti in. Kind of weird that, for all the dues sophisti-pop has been paid over the last few years, the focus has been almost exclusively on, like, The Blue Nile and not Scritti Politti, but maybe that pendulum will swing the other way at some point.

Field Music, "Not When You're in Love"

Another one from the brothers Brewis, as promised...this is the kind of song they're just very good at when they nail it (which, again, they've always walked a line between being overly grating and hitting that perfect XTC spiky-melodic sweet spot). I love the lyrics on this one, as well as the delivery, and also love how the song sounds like it's kind of falling down the stairs the entire time. Controlled chaos at its finest.

Four Tet, "Parallel 4"

Vibes. Reminds me that I have to throw "Looking at Your Pager" on a future BD so I don't forget to put it on the best-of-2022 list when I'm compiling that in, like, 2025. (I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday, but I'm about to start working through the massive list of songs I have banked for the best-of-2020 list...don't expect it for a while, but definitely expect it by, like, I don't know, July? I hope?)

Mount Eerie and Julie Doiron, "Love Without Possession"

Gorgeous song, easily one of my favorite songs of 2019, as a lifelong Phil Elverum fan it might also be one of my favorites of his period. Recently found out that there's a Scout LaRue Willis song also called "Love Without Possession," I subjected myself to it to see if it was a cover. It wasn't.

Lucy Dacus, "Forever Half Mast"

Maybe one of my favorite Lucy Dacus songs period, when I first heard it I thought it was a cover because it sounds so easily like a classic, something that's been around forever. In terms of anti-patriotic tunes (something I'm always more than sympathetic to, thematically)‎‎‎‎ it very much avoids cringe as well, which is to be applauded.

Hiro Kone, "Akoluthic Phase"

This is from an album called A Fossil Begins to Bray, which I constantly read in my head with a Disclosure-song-y-"When a Fire Starts to Burn" voice..."When a Fossil Begins to Bray!" You can hear it too, right? I'm sure you can.

Have a Nice Life, "Sea of Worry"

What a great band name. Have a nice life! Don't mind if I do. Sea of Worry is their third album but basically my introduction to them, I gotta do the digging at some point...they capture something in between post-rock, noise rock, emo, shoegaze, it's all in there as it is with so much heavier rock music lately (where, to be honest, most of the interesting rock music is happening these days). ‎‎Love those swoons in the mostly-wordless chorus, kind of just the perfect thing to throw in there texturally that makes my brain go, "Ah, yeah, that's the spot right there."

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Jamie Larson