Baker's Dozen: Yohuna, Yelawolf, and Some of My Favorite Songs of 2021

Baker's Dozen: Yohuna, Yelawolf, and Some of My Favorite Songs of 2021

Baker's Dozen is a weekly thing I do for paid subscribers where I send out a playlist of music I've enjoyed recently, along with some stray thoughts on that music. Despite this week's title, this is not a best of 2021 list—feels like I'll probably put that together, like, two years from now at this point. (I've said this before but expect the 2020 list, like, this time next year.)

Told Slant, "Run Around the School"

Told Slant's Point the Flashlight and Walk is a good example of a record I didn't quite "get" at first—wait, let's rephrase that, I very much got it but the close-to-the-bone intimacy of it all took a second or two to really latch onto. As it is I feel like I still listen to the record with some distance, because it's very intimate-sounding, similiar to the first few Perfume Genius records. Of course, we all know how Perfume Genius turned out, and I wish the same for Told Slant as well.

Yohuna, "See Me"

Yohuna is a name I've been seeing around since I ran Pitchfork's Tracks section in the early 2010s (ah, memories). I recently got around to checking out her second album Mirroring which is quite enjoyable, this is probably my favorite song on it. Very capable dream-pop, which is never in short supply but always appreciated when it's done right.

Bartees Strange, "Weights"

Holy shit, this song. Thanks to Pitchfork's y-e list for putting this on everyone's radar, I don't know how many people are digging around in deluxe editions of year-old albums these days but what a gem. My main problem with Live Forever (which is not bad regardless) is that it wasn't packed front-to-back with songs like this, or at least had five of them. If he can make a record with, like, at least five songs like this, it will likely be the best rock record of that year.

Doss, "Strawberry"

Another incredible song from last year, happy to have Doss (who was a decently-kept secret for a bit in the 2010s) back in the mix. Along with "Weights," reminiscent of the 2000s through a very different sound, recalling a time when "indie" could be anything and wasn't necessarily required to be anything, if that makes sense.

WORLD PEACE, "Sins of the Saint"

I had a dream recently (was it a dream?) where I was trying to describe a lot of the type of music I've been listening to, and it was with this song in mind. Short and sweet, fun record, gotta appreciate this energy.

Justin Courtney Pierre, "Footsteps"

Never been a Motion City Soundtrack guy (maybe that'll change?) but I love this song, pretty much a perfect power-pop hook. First thing I think of is Ruler's Winning Star Champion from a few years ago, another great modern power-pop work.

Jensen McRae, "Wolves"

Astonishing piece of songwriting, the type of thing that makes you reach for superlatives because of the bracing clarity it operates under. Maybe one of the best songs of the last several years? It will stay with me for a long time.

Yelawolf and DJ Muggs, "Harvest" [ft. Struggle Jennings]

Yelawolf! Bet you haven't thought of him in a while. There was a time where, if you worked in or adjacent to the music industry—let's say from 2010 to 2013—you would likely find yourself at a Yelawolf performance whether it was your choice or not. Anyway, he's still doing his thing, assumedly without the Confederate flag (that was a thing he did, right?), the tape he did with DJ Muggs last year was actually quite good in an old-head way. He could pull off a white Rick Ross thing (not that he was ever as big as Rick Ross) appealing to "real hip-hop" types, if he wanted. Who knows what he wants, though—he's Yelawolf.

Keleketla! and Coldcut, "Crystallise" [ft. Yugen Blakrok and Tamar Osborn]

This record was too jazzy for me overall but I thought the groove here was vey solid, very Brainfeeder-y.

Emily A. Sprague, "Woven"

I'm warier than ever of ambient music these days because of the very annoying pandemic-era music critic narrative that "We need to listen to quiet, thoughtful music right now"—but I've said enough about this elsewhere online already and people always get pissed off about it, so I'll stop. Anyway! Emily A. Sprague is very good at this, better than many, I love her work as Florist but I might say that her solo ambient work is even more mesmerizing? Good stuff.

SAINt JHN, "Sucks to Be You"

This guy was one of a few people shoehorned into the VMAs commercial breaks this year. When he appeared I said, "Oh, this guy," and my wife said, "You know who this is?" Not by choice! SAINt JHN is one of those guys who have popped up in my inbox periodically over the years, always someone trying to make him happen. As of now, I would not bet on it—but this song has stuck in my craw in a not-annoying way.

Pupil Slicer, "Vilified"

Wasn't too into the album as a whole here which is a surprise, because this is very much my thing these days—but some cool stuff like this on there, at their best they remind me of the gods Code Orange.

Real Numbers, "Darling"

If you know me, if you've followed my writing, or if you've been a day-one BD head, you know I have a very soft spot for chiming Anglo indie-pop like this. When it hits right, there's nothing better.

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Jamie Larson