Baker's Dozen: Gum Country, Jessie Ware, Nana Grizol, and the Stupid Stuff I Still Like Anyway

Baker's Dozen: Gum Country, Jessie Ware, Nana Grizol, and the Stupid Stuff I Still Like Anyway

Baker’s Dozen is a recurring weekly feature in which I share a playlist of songs I’ve been enjoying lately, along with commentary on said songs and artists as well as whatever else I want to comment on. It even happens on Thanksgiving!

Megan Thee Stallion, “Body”

The hook that’s been stuck in all of our heads, all week. Good News is pretty solid, reveals a few of Megan’s artistic limitations and also proves once and for all that maybe she just shouldn’t have male-identifying guest spots on her songs anymore. (That Popcaan feature, blech.) As with “WAP” and “Savage,” she sounds best on big, empty productions that allow her huge voice to take up every inch of space; anything busier-sounding than that and she gets drowned out. Still, between “WAP” (a very good song constantly in danger of being overrated), “Savage” (great without Beyoncé, even better with), and “Body” (one of her best), a banner year for Megan.

Good Sad Happy Bad, “Blessed”

Micachu and the Shapes are Good Sad Happy Bad now. No complaints here. Always an interesting and frequently very good band (aside from Mica Levi’s visionary score work), this new album is definitely one of their better outings. Love this song, reminds me of Broadcast, RIP Trish Keenan.

Kiiara, “I Still Do”

Christ, what an awful song. But I like it anyway. How the human brain—my brain, at least—works sometimes. I’m not even talking in the realm of “guilty pleasures,” which I don’t believe actually exist. This is the real deal when it comes to just flat-out awful music that I regardless have listened to more than a few times now. The album this song is on is terrible, of course. Let’s move on.

Black Thought, “Good Morning” [ft. Pusha T, Swizz Beatz, and Killer Mike]

Lotta guys on this! This song is a bit of booming good fun in the “real hip-hop” lane, everyone is flexing their skills. Killer Mike sounds better on here than the last few Run the Jewels albums, tbh—but, then again, my enthusiasm has always wavered on RTJ in general.

HAIM, “Leaning on You”

The new HAIM album has that “somehow better than people say it is, and people already say it is really good” feel that I talked about a few months back. The production and songwriting feels refreshingly '90s, dipping into soft electronic beats and genre playfulness that sounds like Luscious Jackson or something. But HAIM are still uncannily good at doing the Fleetwood Mac thing, and they really just blow it out of the water with this glimmering “Never Going Back Again” rip.

Gum Country, “Brain Song”

Good stuff from a side project of The Courtneys, which is another good band—both of which remind me of that NZ sound I mentioned in last week’s Baker’s Dozen, despite being Canadian.

Gia Margaret, “no sleep no dream”

Listen to this song on Bandcamp.

Orindal—the label founded by Owen Ashworth of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and Advance Base–is always putting out really interesting releases, and the new Gia Margaret record is one of them. Wispy ambient pop dreams, this song and the album as a whole feel like you’ve walked in on someone staring at a sliver of sunlight appearing on a windowsill.

Nana Grizol, “Jangle Manifesto”

Nana Grizol is one of those bands where I’ve been aware of them forever but never gave them that much of a listen until their new album, which just continues to grow on me more and more. Real fascinating engagement with living-as-politics and a lot of societal reckoning going on here overall. Probably one of the more overlooked indie rock albums of the year.

Zachary Cale, “Slide”

This guy’s doing a few different folk-ish things on this album to my ears, not all of them work but this mode does.

Khruangbin, “So We Won’t Forget”

I’m on record as thinking these guys are pap, but even pap can sound ok sometimes. Credit where credit’s due.

MIKE, “Trail of Tears”

”Big Mike know the guy behind a bunch of tears.” With every successive release I’m drawn more to this guy’s music, still can’t really put it into words as to why but he continues to do a lot of special stuff, I think.

박혜진 Park Hye Jin, “Like this”

Vibes. Not much more to say than that.

Jessie Ware, “Spotlight”

Going forward, I’ll have three memories around Jessie Ware. One is seeing her first NYC show at The Box with my friend Ryan Dombal. Another is seeing her on the Devotion tour at Webster Hall with my wife and our friends Hilary and Dave Giumara. The third is my friend Lindsay Zoladz reminding me for most of the last six months to keep listening to the new Jessie Ware album, which is excellent and probably second-best behind Devotion. She did quiet storm uncannily well on Devotion and moves towards straight-up disco with such ease here. Excellently produced, excellently sung, as usual she knows what she’s doing.

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Jamie Larson