Life is a grand mystery. You never know what’s going to happen when you wake up in the morning. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll meet someone new or find a dollar in your pants pocket. If you’re not lucky, maybe your laptop will die out of nowhere and you’ll have to send it off to get fixed. I bet you can guess which one happened to me last week! It was tough not having my laptop with me. Have you ever tried editing something on your phone? It’s not easy. To make up for my absence last week, this edition of Take 5 is going to be a Take 10, covering songs from the past two weeks. They’re not presented in any particular order, but they’re all great. Let’s dive in.
Bishop Briggs – Baby
There’s no wrong way to do a love song. Every artist has their own spin on the formula, and each one is worthy of a listen. Bishop Briggs gives the love song a spin with her new single “Baby,” and it’s incredible. Briggs sings about her “baby,” including the good parts, the rough parts, and all the wild fun they have together. Every line is delivered with Briggs’s trademark intensity fused with a touch of tenderness, and it works perfectly. Briggs works best with an instrumental that doesn’t get in the way of her delivery, and “Baby”‘s percussion heavy and spacey backing builds atmosphere while leaving Briggs that room to work. It might not be a love song you’ve heard before, but “Baby” shows Bishop Briggs can do the genre justice her own way.
Stealth – Truth Is
Video game soundtracks have a long history of identifying spectacular songs and talent. As an example, the soundtracks from the early Tony Hawk Pro Skater games remain legendary to this day. The FIFA 19 soundtrack is pretty solid across the board, but Stealth’s new single “Truth Is.” The track has everything you’d want to get you pumped up to play some soccer or otherwise show you run things. Stealth spends the verses showcasing maximum smoothness, with his perfectly pitched vocals navigating jazzy finger snaps and a killer set of piano chords. This leads into an extravagant chorus suitable for the largest arenas, and Stealth truly lets loose on a bridge that deserves to be replayed over and over. Whether you hear it in a game or on a playlist, “Truth Is” will have you ready to go.
FINNEAS – College
We’re a few weeks into college classes, and I hope you’re learning a bunch, making friends, and generally having a good time. Unfortunately, there’s still heartbreak in college and producer FINNEAS (who happens to be Billie Eilish’s brother and frequent collaborator) takes aim at that sorrow on new single “College.” The single addresses issues that plague many college couples, from long distances apart to broken promises and jealousy. FINNEAS’s production is haunting, wallowing in all of the confusing feelings that come when love falls apart. There are hints of anger and resentment in his voice, and there’s an overwhelming sadness that permeates all of “College.” No one ever said breakups were fun, and FINNEAS captures what they’re like perfectly on “College.”
Courtney Cole – Spiritual
If a singer has a great voice, there’s nothing wrong with building a song around their powerful vocal cords. That’s the case for Courtney Cole’s new single “Spiritual.” Cole holds nothing back here, with numerous trips into the top of her vocal range with moving results. Cole’s singing about a love that’s “spiritual,” and the instrumental is built around a piano and a shade of strings that give the track a reverential feeling. Cole balances the power of her voice with the emotional delicacy the instrumental establishes, and the result is a single that will strike at your heart and impress your ears at the same time. Courtney Cole has the vocal chops to hang with anyone, and she shows them off to great effect on “Spiritual.”
Valley – Closer To The Picture
It’s hard not to talk about Valley’s single “Closer To The Picture” without talking about its music video. The two are linked together in a way that they’re almost inseparable. “Closer To The Picture” gives off those cozy house party vibes from the music video with every note and word. Rob Laska’s vocals are delivered thoughtfully and the harmonies the rest of the band provide create the kind of sound that takes you back to all the memories of singing with your friends crammed into someone’s living room. I love the way the track builds to a big epiphany at the end, both in the lyrics and in the music. If you’re having a gathering at your place this weekend, Valley’s “Closer To The Picture” is a mandatory listen.
Lana Del Rey – Mariners Apartment Complex
I try not to be too predictable here with Take 5, but I might have failed with this pick. If you know me, you knew as soon as Lana Del Rey dropped a new song it was going on this list. It doesn’t hurt that “Mariners Apartment Complex” is another excellent release from Del Rey. The track combines her usual ethereal sounds with a more grounded base in a stirring piano and acoustic guitar. Del Rey’s vocals are perfect throughout, whether she’s delivering in a manner similar to spoken word or letting loose with her lighter, breathier high notes. “Mariners Apartment Complex” also has a great sense of momentum, with Del Rey’s urgency building throughout. Whatever Lana Del Rey has up her sleeves for her next project, “Mariners Apartment Complex” is a good sign for it.
Pale Waves – Red
Of all the album releases in the last two weeks, Pale Waves may have the best one. My Mind Makes Noises is excellent from front to back, with jam after jam pouring out of the speakers. It took me awhile to narrow it down to one song to include in Take 5, but “Red” is a solid choice. Heather Baron-Gracie’s brilliant writing is on display here, invoking all the feelings that seeing the color red can bring to mind. “Red” also showcases the entire band, from Charlie Wood’s excellent keyboard work that propels the song along to Ciara Doran’s drum work. There are moments where “Red” slows down and everything is in perfect balance, and moments that turn into a full on jam, with Hugo Silvani getting to show off on the guitar. You should really give all of My Mind Makes Noises a listen, and you can let “Red” serve as your gateway into Pale Waves’ world.
Khalid – Better
Khalid can do no wrong when it comes to music, as far as I’m concerned. Like all of his releases to date, I’ve been hooked on “Better” since I first heard it. I love the tenderness Khalid displays, a perfect croon over the smooth synths and percussion you can sway along to. I’m all about supporting the people that you care the most about, and “Better” perfectly captures that mix of joy, pride, and affection that comes with seeing those you’re close to achieve their dreams and live their best lives. Wrapped in Khalid’s usual R&B mastery, that’s a message that can’t be beat. We should all strive to close out 2018 by rooting for our loved ones, so do that and make “Better” your anthem for it.
Donna Missal – Jupiter
Donna Missal also put out an album within the last two weeks, and it is also excellent. This Time is a really intriguing listen, one that I’m still discovering twists on and having new thoughts about. “Jupiter” is a song that gets my attention on every listen. You think it’s going to be a pleasant, synthy track, and for the opening minute that’s exactly what it is. Missal’s voice lays perfectly in this billowing collection of sound. That’s when Missal’s voice becomes more pointed, and while “Jupiter” remains mellow on the whole, there’s a captivating bite that creeps into the music. Missal has a show coming up on the 25th The Troubadour in LA, and “Jupiter” seems like a song that will be killer live.
Carrie Underwood – Drinking Alone
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Carrie Underwood’s new album Cry Pretty. There’s some of the pure country Underwood on the album, but there’s also a lot of fun experimentation. Through it all, Underwood showcases the vocals that took her to the top of the mountain. “Drinking Alone” is one of my favorite tracks that merge all of those elements. Sometimes a breakup needs to be drowned in a bottle, and Underwood has fun with the concept. There’s your required breakup sadness, but mixed in with a heaping helping of belting and a devil may care attitude that is immediately infectious. I sincerely hope that you’re not in the same situation as Underwood is in “Drinking Alone,” but either way it’s a great, entertaining listen.
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