Baker's Dozen: Wet Leg, Chief Keef, and Small Things in Big Packages

Baker's Dozen: Wet Leg, Chief Keef, and Small Things in Big Packages

Baker's Dozen is a regular thing for paid subscribers of Larry Fitzmaurice's Last Donut of the Night newsletter, featuring some music and some thoughts about that music.

Wet Leg, "Too Late Now"

Amazing closing track for an album, especially that last minute. This record has been best enjoyed far, far away from any discourse around it—which, let's talk about that for a second, why not. Obviously there was a ton of hype behind Wet Leg before this album was released, these things happen frequently, and of course the hype was faced with an outsized sense of suspicion towards the band itself (this will always happen when the musician is female-identifying, for what it's worth). Anyway, I imagine any "backlash" (why would there be any backlash against them to begin with?) Wet Leg have faced is because they make what they do sound so easy—it's like they walked over to a guitar and started strumming and said, "Here's a little song I came up with." It's effortless brilliance, the type that made Pavement so celebrated and adored, and even though they don't sound alike at all, the comparison floats around in my head regardless.

Super American, "free bird"

Shout out to Buffalo, a place that has been through a lot in the last year. Super American can be a little corny at points, but they occasionally hit that pop-punk sweet spot that results in some undeniably well-crafted music.

Topaz Jones, "Blue" [ft. Gabriel Garzón-Montano]

Hey, shout out to Montclair too! My clarinet teacher used to live there, I way prefer what Topaz Jones does to the music she's into. Love that arpeggiated melodic pattern that runs in the background here, makes you feel like you're in suspended animation.

Roddy Ricch, "moved to miami" [ft. Lil Baby]

Roddy Ricch's Live Life Fast is an absolute disaster of an album, the exact kind of thing you get when a rapper with no discernible "it factor" to offer tries to level up in several specific ways while failing at everything he tries. Amidst the wreckage, you get flashes of an attempt to re-create College Dropout-era Kanye West in terms of self-mythologizing—which, yeah, Roddy doesn't really have the juice to give something like that a shot—as well as the occasional interesting "huh, ok" moment like this track, where you get some splashy jazz fusion stuff that leads into a very comfortable-sounding TM88 production with a very comfortable-sounding Lil Baby. So funny how a surprising left-turn of an intro can give way to something so completely unsurprising and rote...hey, I did say he made a mess with all of this.

Chief Keef, "On What"

Chief Keef was at the Golden Globes this year, kind of: When Donald Glover was announced as a nominee, they played "Bitch Where" for three seconds, which turned me into the Leo-pointing-at-the-TV meme. So weird to think of him as something of an elder statesman in rap at this point, thankful he's still around making interesting music.

Majid Jordan, "Sweet"

OVO farm-team guys Majid Jordan continue to be talented but not terribly interesting; Wildest Dreams from 2021 is 3/4 rehashes of the starry-eyed '80s sound they mined so successfully for Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home." (Diddy shows up at one point too, love when that happens.) But their occasionally and relatively anodyne R&B gestures ‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎like this boy band-ish track are way more interesting to me, makes me think that they could knock it out of the park with Ed Sheeran in the booth which also reinforces the truth that they're better when they're not in the spotlight.

Dua Saleh, "fitt" [ft. Amaarae]

Hey, Dua Saleh was featured on, like, the first sort-of Baker's Dozen I did for this newsletter back in 2020—welcome back! Amaarae is, of course, always a welcome presence, I believe we are getting new music from her this year which is plenty exciting.

Alfa Mist, "Teki"

Nice one from British producer Alfa Mist's Anti- debut Bring Backs, I'm never posting a ton of jazz on here but this is the type of jazz I like the most.

Bone Cutter, "How to Force Feed Your Children and Friends All of Your Failed Ideas in 10 Decayed Steps"‎‎

Bone Cutter rose from the ashes of San Jose band Heavy Heavy Low Low, and their debut EP on Deathwish from 2021 is short and sweet when it comes to what you might expect from rhythmically complex heavy music. Reminds me of Blood Brothers a little, has that sweet pop edge underneath the chaos.

Dummy, "Aluminum in Retrograde"

So, the way it works is that I will usually listen to a record once in passing, earmark it for revisiting, and then it won't be until like six months later that I start to spend more time with it to choose a song for future Baker's Dozen inclusion. ‎‎So, I heard about Dummy's quite solid Mandatory Enjoyment well before the band were subjects of one of the most scattershot pieces of heavily-passed-around music writing in recent memory. (The less said the better about most of its contents, other than that if you and your subjects have to spend days online afterwards explaining what you really meant, I'm not sure your writing really got the job done when it comes to delivering a coherent thesis.) Anyway, was it unfortunate that Dummy were part of this? Not really, I definitely saw people mention that they checked out Mandatory Enjoyment because of it, and to be clear loading a tour diary (which, historically, no one actually reads) with incendiary "all the other music writing is bad except mine" Molotovs is a great way to pull attention to a piece that otherwise would've gathered digital dust. (Disclaimer that I sometimes contribute to Bandcamp and probably will continue to do so in the future.)  ANYWAY, the funny thing about Dummy being wrapped up in this non-troversy is that their music is far from incendiary; they strike a solid balance between Stereolab's day-glo motorik and Broadcast's shortwave mysticism and Deerhunter's own melding of those two halves. The music is good, and they're doing "this sound" better than most, but they're certainly not trailblazers in the contemporary or historical sense, so we'll see where they go from here. Perhaps that's unfair expectations to place on a band that is very DIY, but hey, I'm not the one who said that music doesn't have any value in an article for a publication attached to a platform that literally sells music as its main function.

Vince Staples, "BANG THAT" [ft. Mustard]

I've sensed some flagging enthusiasm for Vince Staples over his last several albums, which is a shame; to my ears, he's still turning out very interesting and detailed music, often immersed in a specific melancholia. His Mustard collabs on Ramona Park Broke My Heart offered a look into what Vince sounds like as a pop star, and the pair are capable at turning out earworms when working together. Who knows where he'll go next, he seems on his own wavelength for the time being and I respect it.

Axel Boman, "Hold On"

Axel Boman's LUZ and Quest For Fire made for two "Just put this on, it's all good" records in 2022, music that you can throw on in the car or a chill sesh and maybre if someone's around and they hadn't heard it yet they'd ask "Hey, what is this?" More goodness of course from Studio Barnhus, a crew I've been a vocal supporter of since they started doing their thing; they're all cosmic kin of DJ Koze, their takes on house music sounding homespun and miraculous and earthy. I'll be sharing a track from Quest For Fire next week, too.

Internet Money, "Lemonade" [ft. Gunna, Don Toliver, and NAV]

What a dumb song, lol. Don Toliver though, what a hook...if I ever do karaoke in a room again with people, I can definitely see myself hollering, "Off the juice!/ CODEINE GOT ME TRI-PPING!" It probably won't sound as good, though.‎‎‎

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Jamie Larson