It’s been a minute since I highlighted some of the incredible work that my fellow writers and photographers have been doing here on Substream. To that end, we’re going to be using the intro to Take 5 this week to show off some of that work. Joel Funk has been premiering some fantastic tracks that I’ve been into over the last few weeks. Kate Scott‘s show reviews, like the one she did about Sylvan Esso this week, will make you feel like you were there, too. Murjani Rawls is one of the best photographers in the entire game right now, and his portrait series from Lollapalooza is incredible. And if you want to read more of my work, you can click my name right here in the article to see what I’ve been writing about. With all of that reading material laid out for you, let’s get to this week’s list.

Taylor Janzen – Colourblind

This week my listening habits have involved a lot of soft, melancholy tracks. I haven’t been particularly sad myself, but this is just the sound that I’ve been craving. Luckily for me, Canadian artist Taylor Janzen released her EP, Interpersonal, last week. The whole EP is a textbook example of how to create songs that will pierce listeners right where it counts, but forced to choose one song, I’m going with “Colourblind.” A good deal longer than the EP’s other offerings, “Colourblind” allows for Janzen to build and explore both the music and the heavy themes she explores. Janzen is a gifted guitarist, and “Colourblind” allows her to showcase that with a stirring melody and backing that grows more nuanced and complex as the track goes along without becoming too much or too loud. No matter what’s going on in the music, Janzen also keeps the focus on the message of “Colourblind,” and that delicate balance is a powerful thing to listen to and process. If you’re in the mood for a song to break your heart, “Colourblind” is the way to go.

The Candescents – Back Of Your Hand

Literally any song that starts with the beautiful whine of an electric guitar when you just let the note grow is a winner in my book. The Candescents had me on board from the opening seconds of “Back of Your Hand,” and the rest of the song doesn’t disappoint, either. The riff that evolves from that whine is a catchy and infectiously fun musical idea that underpins the whole track. There’s a melodic feeling to the instrumental that wills satisfy those looking to move, while fans of a denser sound will be satisfied by the bite of the riffs in the verses and leading up to that chorus. Speaking of the chorus, the raucous, vocals from The Candescents are a blast, and that falsetto in the verses is something to love as well. “Back Of your Hand” is a fantastic time, and listeners will have just as much fun pressing play as The Candescents appear to have had recording.

Exploded View – Sleepers

Take 5 is about the songs every week, but I’ll talk about music videos here, too. In this case, I mention it because the music video for Exploded View’s new single “Sleepers” so perfectly fits the track. The long handheld tracking shots have a dreamy, other-worldly feel to them, matching the song’s general vibe. The small hums and and drones of the synths make for a spooky listen, as “Sleepers” creeps and slides along. The moments the facade of the sunny sections of the song crack and the music switches to a more chaotic, harried sound are musically brilliant and might have you looking over your shoulder at the same time. Exploded View might be invading your nightly routine with “Sleepers,” which is a very good thing.

Mitski – Two Slow Dancers

I was already anticipating that Mitski‘s Be The Cowboy will be one of my favorite albums of the year. After listening to “Two Slow Dancers,” I’m even more sure of it. While Mitski’s last two singles showcased more of her eclectic, epic songwriting, “Two Slow Dancers” is a song that is beautiful in its simplicity. That’s not to say there aren’t interesting things happening in the instrumental, with many moments of soaring keys and stirring crescendos to create a fantastic contrast with the softer moments. Meanwhile, Mitski continues to prove she can write a song better than anyone, with her tale of two people drifting apart serving as a truly heart-wrenching tale. The way the song just dies out at the end like how relationships can end is brilliant. There’s not much left to say about “Two Slow Dancers” other than: Mitski forever.

Alkaline Trio – Is This Thing Cursed?

I was somewhat surprised on my first listen of “Is This Thing Cursed?” For a song with that title, the beginning of the track is unexpectedly tender, with Matt Skiba singing over a light and slightly mournful piano. The transition about a minute in towards the fleshed out instrumental that makes up the rest of the song is perfectly done. Alkaline Trio strike a delicate balance through the rest of “Is This Thing Cursed?”, with riffs and vocals that will absolutely make fans jump up and move while still carrying just a hint of mournfulness that the lyrics require. The new album from Alkaline Trio is out at the end of the month, and “Is This Thing Cursed?” has me intrigued to take a listen.


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