We’re deep into August now, which means a few things. For all of our readers in college, chances are that you’re either starting class today or next week. You get to see all your friends again, you get to learn new things and move towards a career you love, what’s not to be excited about? Mid-August also means that we start to move into the busy fall release window in music, and this fall is shaping up to be a great one. It’ll make my job hard trying to consolidate all the releases into just five tracks each week, but I will do it gladly. I do it for the love of music and the love for all of you readers. Let’s get to this week’s Take 5.
Kat Hamilton – Letting Go
“Letting Go” is a song about evolution. Kat Hamilton’s latest single tells the story of her moving past sorrow in her life and evolving into a happier, healthier person. The lyrical writing she displays is more than enough to land her on Take 5 on its own. “Letting Go” shows fantastic evolution musically, as well. The growth from Hamilton’s first single “Bees” to “Letting Go” is evident, and both evolve in their own way during their respective runtimes. “Letting Go” begins with a funky little bass part, throws in some folksy guitar strumming, and then merges everything together with a pop-inspired flair. Hamilton’s career is young, but with “Letting Go” she’s already proving she can create interesting and nuanced musical delights.
mewithoutYou – Cities of the Plain
It has certainly been a week for mewithoutYou. What started with the release of one new single on Monday turned into an album announcement, tour announcement, and EP release by the end of the week. [untitled] the EP has me incredibly excited for [Untitled], the album, and “Cities of the Plain” is a great example why. Almost no one does a slow build as well as mewithoutYou does. “Cities of the Plain” spends almost two minutes crafting an instrumental intro before Aaron Weiss’ vocals come in. Even after that, it’s another couple minutes of slowly adding in more guitars before “Cities of the Plain” reaches it’s zenith. A lesser band might turn this slow burn into a slog, but mewithoutYou masterfully turns it into a harrowing listen that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It’s good to have mewithoutYou back, and “Cities of the Plain” is a prime example why that’s true.
Death Cab for Cutie – 60 & Punk
Death Cab for Cutie also have a new album out, and it’s pretty dang good! Thank You For Today–like most every album in existence–ends after a certain period of time, which means it has a closing track. Death Cab for Cutie are incredible at creating closing tracks, and “60 & Punk” is no exception. Ben Gibbard takes center stage mostly by himself here, with his voice and piano serving as the primary instruments. The melancholy tale of someone that Gibbard looks up to slowly slipping into a self-destructive, unfulfilling life is beautiful in its own sad way. As always, Gibbard crafts a story that transports you to the point where you can almost see it playing out before your eyes. As if you needed an excuse to listen to Thank You For Today more than once, getting to “60 & Punk” again and again is as good an excuse as any.
Mitski – Washing Machine Heart
I normally don’t like putting an artist on Take 5 multiple weeks in a row. There are enough new tracks out there that I can normally avoid it without much problem. As I’ve said before though, this is my column and I make the rules, so we’re making an exception this week. Mitski deserves to be on this list again. Be The Cowboy is an incredible piece of art, and one of my favorite albums of 2018 already. Each track on the new album is it’s own little capsule and story that feeds into the larger feeling of Mitski’s vision. Clocking in at just over two minutes, “Washing Machine Heart” tells it’s story briskly while still being a sonic journey. An interesting percussion intro gives way into a slick guitar riff. The idea of a “washing machine heart” where people just deposit their dirty, used baggage is brilliant, and Mitski delivers it with the usual level of writing brilliance and vocal splendor. And seriously, go listen to all of Be The Cowboy right now.
Ariana Grande – breathin
There are a lot of good songs on Ariana Grande‘s new album, Sweetener. All of the singles so far have been great, and there are a few album tracks (many produced by phenom producer Pharrell Williams) which I think will be big in the coming months. All that being said, the most important, most emotional track on Sweetener is “breathin.” Musically, it pairs Grande with producer Ilya, who has worked extensively with her in the past. It’s got a great, echoing beat and does some cool tricks with layering vocals. It’s the subject matter that makes “breathin” so emotional. The track is about the bombing in Manchester that occurred last year, Grande’s mental health, and the effect the former had on the latter. Hearing the lyrical content of how traumatic it was for Grande and everyone else involved is heartbreaking. Grande’s mantra that all she can do is just keep “breathin” and moving forward rings true. “breathin” is an important song, and I highly recommend you listen.
Update: The “official video” for Ariana Grande’s “breathin” previously included and discussed in the article was a fan-made video distributed on a fan account, not an official video from Grande herself. Substream regrets the error.
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