Baker's Dozen: Kimbra, EARTHGANG, and the Curious Case of Gwen Stefani

Baker's Dozen: Kimbra, EARTHGANG, and the Curious Case of Gwen Stefani

Baker's Dozen is typically for paid subscribers of Larry Fitzmaurice's Last Donut of the Night newsletter, but today it's free to give everyone a taste of what paying subscribers get every week. (To those subscribers—there will also be one sent out on Friday, as always.)

Why am I doing another free BD after I did one last week? A few reasons—one, I have a lot of BDs saved up right now from the hiatus I took while migrating to Ghost, and these are typically at their best when I'm writing them after recently putting the playlists together, so I want to get caught up somewhat quickly at this juncture.

Also, I don't have any interviews to run this week, but there will definitely be more to come in the following weeks...I haven't written long-form criticism for the newsletter in a while now, and that itself is for a few reasons ranging from work taking up more time to not wanting to force any half-baked ideas. (The essays I have published over the last few years, some I sit on for a long time—and some I come up with the day before I write. It's not an exact science.) Also, I'm saving up my long-form energy for the massive Best Songs of 2020 list that I hope to run in a few months, finally. I'm writing (or have yet to write) all 155 or 156 blurbs, so it's (ugh, it'll) be an undertaking, but one well worth taking.

Anyway, let's get into it:

Burial, "Old Tape"

That's right, more Burial, just the type of guy I am. This one actually passed me by when the Hyperswim compilation dropped back in 2019 because, truthfully, if you're not a music news writer there's littele incentive to be fastidious about checking out Adult Swim comps...of course, some interesting textures from the man here, a little rave-y, a little prog, all very Burial. God, I love everything he does—even the ultra-foggy mood pieces he's been doing the last few years, yes there's nothing to really hang your hat on, but the mood is so him, no one else can do it like he does.

UNI and the Urchins, "POPSTAR SUPERNOVA"

These guys are from NYC, I pegged them as European when I first listened to their latest...I'll confess that before I listened to the Maneskin album, I roughly assumed that this is what it was going to sound like, minus the cyber-dystopic corniness going on here. (Yes, I'm going to feature a Maneskin song in a future BD...brace yourself.)

Julian Never, "Silver One"

Julian Never, (Adam Sandler "The Hannukah Song" voice) not a guy. Two guys, in fact! They used to be in the band Mayyors, which I recall hearing about but never actually hearing...their debut record from this year scratches the Kiwi-pop itch well enough if you've got it, jangle always has a familiar sound to it and if you're familiar with it, you definitely don't mind the familiarity.

Mickey Diamond, "The Foot"

I saw Jai Paul last week and when he came out I said to a friend, "What if he sent out a fake Jai Paul like MF DOOM used to do?" Of course, this Mickey Diamond tape from this year proves that you don't have to put on the mask to pretend to do a DOOM thing...beyond the art and the production (maybe that's a stretch, even) there's nothing inherently DOOM-y about what Detroit guy Mickey Diamond is doing here. (I mean, there is the homophobic slur in there...I love DOOM as much as anyone, RIP, absolute legend, but can't really forgive him for "Batty Boyz.") Kind of funny to hear someone from the Midwest doing this sound right now when there's so much interesting stuff coming out of the Midwest, but everyone's got their thing.

Caroline Says, "Falling Knife"

I liked the Caroline Says album from 2018 well enough but think the Ohio River EP from the following year was a massive and undeniable step up, I like the atmospherics on this one especially. I think there's a new one coming soon, keep a look out for that.

Sean Paul, "Light My Fire" [ft. Gwen Stefani & Shenseea]

Sean Paul gave a talk at the Brooklyn Public Library recently to commemorate the anniversary of Dutty Rock, missing it is one of life's greatest regrets that I hold currently. Scorcha from last year has some serious jams, this song is a cheap thrill, much love to Shenseea, Gwen Stefani is a race-playing weirdo though.


I know I've said this before, but all the Dreamville guys are just so weird about women, man. Like, this EARTHGANG song, classic "cake and eat it too" situation from them I think, wants to be a "love yourself" anthem (especially the Baby Tate verse) but really just comes across as a "pull your pants up" respectability scold directed towards women, and coming from the type of guys who refer to women as "females"...annoying stuff. Good beat, though.

King Hannah, "Foolius Caesar"

"Band that sounds like they're holding a knife in their hands behind their back while they're talking to you very calmly" is my favorite type of British indie band these days...big ups to King Hannah for that vibe. Do I detect a little bit of late-era PJ Harvey in their sound, or am I just full of shit? Who knows.

Gábor Lázár, "Boundary Object VI"

(Homer Simpson voice) Mmm...pointillist trance. OK that's not really what Gábor Lázár is up to on his latest, the excellent Boundary Object, but it tickles the same brain folds for me that the sound of Lorenzo Senni et al always do. Just ripples of pure punchy synth bliss, perhaps this would be irritating to some but it's so tactile and delightful to me.

Tears For Fears, "End of Night"

The first Tears For Fears album in 18 years is an absolute goddamn triumph, both current-sounding and timeless and packed with sincerity and reflection...just a massive tune here, huge and swoon-worthy, if the radio was what it used to be it would probably be everywhere.

Tate McRae, "go away"

I'm take-it-or-leave-it (Tate-it-or-leave-it?) with much of Tate McRae's stuff at this point, but this song passes the pleasant-enough test for me. I admire the relative simplicity of the sentiment and melody here, especially when so many female-ID'ing artists in the pop space are going for the Phoebe Bridgers-alike style of seeing how many times they can get away with rhyming "Lexapro" with "Miracle Gro." "Now I don't think I'm okay/ You never go away," doesn't get more straightforward than that.

Alfie Templeman, "Mellow Moon"

Alfie Templeman's got a name seemingly plugged into a British Male Indie-Or-Rock-Or-Pop Star Name Generator, Jesus Christ...what are you lot doing over there in the UK, anyway? Don't tell me, I don't really want to know. Anyway, cute music, shades of Declan McKenna (another very name-y name), who knows if he'll stick around, sometimes they do and you don't even know it.

Kimbra, "foolish thinking" [ft. Ryan Lott]

I interviewed Kimbra a few years ago and she was very nice and insightful, I feel like we should all probably be checking for her a little more when it comes to different-thinking pop music, she's doing her own thing even when I'm not always on the wavelength. (She does do a Phoebe Bridgers-y song or two on the latest album though, so she's not immune to trend-chasing either.) I love this song, the synth programming reminds me of James Blake's "Love What Happened Here," a really fragile ballad overall that still possesses a lot of raw strength.

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Jamie Larson