Baker's Dozen: Kero Kero Bonito, Lil Uzi Vert, Yves Tumor, and Getting Closer to Getting La Dispute

Baker's Dozen: Kero Kero Bonito, Lil Uzi Vert, Yves Tumor, and Getting Closer to Getting La Dispute

If you’re one of the few who subscribe to this newsletter that doesn’t follow me on Twitter—don’t. (But seriously: don’t.) Okay, for real this time: I announced yesterday that, a month and change into this newsletter’s format, I’m changing things up for the good by switching to a three-a-week posting schedule. That means you’ll be getting installments on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday—starting today! As I often mention, the posts will alternate between paid and free, so if you want to read all of them (especially as I start locking the archive, which which will happen around September) make sure to grab a paid subscription.

Also, unlike the last Baker’s Dozen, I’m putting the playlist at the top here and from now on going forward, for easy accessibility. You’re not a jerk, I trust you’ll read ‘til the end.

Subscribe now

Kero Kero Bonito, “It’s Bugsnax!”

When I listed all the big pop-cultural events I wasn’t quite excited for a few weeks ago, I left one off that actually delivered big time for me: the PS5 reveal. Few things this year has given me more pleasure than tuning out for an hour-plus and watching expensive previews of video games, 75% of which I will end up not actually playing. Like much of the gaming internet, I was perplexed and ultimately delighted when all the prestige-y mysticism of the games showcased during the livestream gave way to, well, Bugsnax.

Bugsnax doesn’t seem like the typical video game I reach for, but the abrupt tonal shift it forced in the PS5 reveal as well as the absurdity of it all—what better than a game that can be succinctly described as “It’s Bugsnax!”?—carried a strange appeal. UK meta-pop band Kero Kero Bonito’s theme song for the game is even stranger and more appealing, sounding a little like Saint Etienne (a band of which, it turns out, two of KKB's members actually had a hand in writing a few songs for their last album). It’s also hilarious to me that I’m intensely familiar with the plot of a video game that doesn’t even have a release date because I’ve listened to the theme song eighty times in the last several weeks. Talkin’ ‘bout Bugsnax.

Super Siah, “Cool Dad” [ft. Billy B]

My wife introduced me to this one. This kid’s definitely gonna have more time to play Fortnite this school year than he anticipated, that’s for sure.

Young Nudy, “No Pretending”

I’ve been listening to Young Nudy’s Anyways… a lot in this summer’s brutal heat. The beats are all melted ice cream cones and mirages—spiky, colorful video game music. Hard for me to pick a favorite off of it, but I love Nudy’s delivery on this song, as well as the line “You a fuckin’ feces, you piece of shit.” Can’t argue with that!

Lil Uzi Vert, “Bean (Kobe)” [ft. Chief Keef]

Eternal Atake is one of my favorite albums of the year so far, but it has a quality not unlike Burial’s Untrue: there’s no real highlight to me, just a sonic and extremely cinematic-sounding world I love to immerse myself in when the mood is right. Uzi very smartly delivered a more singles-focused companion later in the year with Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World 2, which avoided the increasingly irritating and stream-juking “deluxe album” trap by offering as close to a whole new release as possible. I love this song (which has apparently been around in leak form for a few years now) and I love Pi’erre Bourne’s ultra-psychedelic refracting of his own producer tag that opens this song too.

Davey Harms, “Survival”

I found some of this otherwise solid Hausu Mountain release a little too grating for my ears—but I love the spaciousness of its closing track, which reminds me of a lower-key and less club-focused take on the Night Slugs aesthetic of the early 2010s.

Ladytron, “Tower of Glass”

Ladytron have always been good-to-great, and their comeback album from last year was more squarely in the latter category. I once asked on Twitter if Tegan and Sara had ever heard Ladytron’s classic album The Witching Hour, and Tegan and Sara responded that not only did they love the album, but they’re acquaintances with Ladytron too. Very cool. You can hear a little of Tegan and Sara’s own electro-pop approach in this song I think, it’s less sinister than other Ladytron songs. I love them in both modes, naturally.


La Dispute are a classic example of a band whose approach I respect but don’t quite get yet—they’re kind of like an emo version of Slint? I’ve never really gotten Slint either, and I’ve even seen them live. Anyway, much like the thousandth attempted Spiderland listen that I’ll undoubtedly engage in over the next several months, I’m still trying with La Dispute, and a recent re-listen to last year’s Panorama yielded just a little more for me in this song, which has a great chorus.

Rina Mushonga, “Narcisc0”

Love this song from Mushonga’s 2019 album, which is filled with little gems like this. I can’t quite put my finger on what “Narcisc0” reminds me of, but it’s an amazing vocal performance anchored by a few simple elements that come together to make something that sounds bigger than the song itself. (In terms of albums by people named Rina that came out in the last 18 months, I much prefer this to the Rina Sawayama album, but I'm also not quite as into the nü-metal revival as some of you clearly are.)

Mikron, “Aldergrove”

Most of the album this song is off of sounds like very expansive, melodically driven techno—which I really enjoy, but this cut stood out to me by design. Scratches the Boards of Canada itch until those two weirdos decide to release something new again.

Maria Minerva and Cherushii, “Boyfriend Shirt”

Pure head-in-the-clouds club music. I stopped going out dancing regularly around, I don’t know, 28? (Too tired.) But music like this makes me miss it, especially since we can’t really do it anymore (unless you’re an asshole).

Clem Snide, “Sorry Charlie”

Just a solid song, no frills. “This Clem Snide album is pretty good!” is not something I expected to say in 2020, but in terms of the surprises this year has offered, it’s certainly not one that I’m complaining about.

Lor Choc, “Soul Cry”

I love Lor Choc. Great voice, undeniable talent, thoroughly modern while resembling something classic, emotion running through everything like a river. Love Is Love from last year reminded me strongly of Atlantan and artistic kin Kodie Shane’s undersung and astounding Young Heartthrob from the year before; was hard for me to choose a song I love the most from this one, but “Soul Cry” stands out by design, a quietly towering song.

Yves Tumor, “Medicine Burn”

I imagine that Portishead fans who heard the self-titled album for the first time when it came out in 1997 felt the same way I felt about hearing Yves Tumor’s Heaven to a Tortured Mind for the first time. Safe in the Hands of Love from 2018 was a towering work to me, easily one of the 2010s’ most electrifying and completely mind-blowing albums that cemented them to me as some sort of post-futuristic genius—which is why Heaven to a Tortured Mind, with its blown-mainframe Prince-isms and full-band grooves, initially underwhelmed me. (I’m sure the pandemic had something to do with it too. When in doubt, blame the pandemic!) Anyway, Heaven to a Tortured Mind is also genius, the same way that Portishead was just a different kind of genius from Dummy. Imagine what Yves Tumor will sound like when they make their Third.

Subscribe to Last Donut of the Night

Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
Jamie Larson