We’re back to normal this week! Knock on wood, but my laptop works once more. That means Take 5 can forge ahead. I always love all of the premieres we do here at Substream, but last week was a banner week in that regard. We had everything from evocative music videos to catchy pop singles all the way to a couple of full albums and EPs. All of our premiere writers are extraordinarily gifted, so I suggest you stop in every day to see what’s cooking in the world of music. Be sure to peruse that “premiere” tag as well to catch up on anything you might have missed. In the meantime, let’s dig into the five new tracks this week.

Wafia – I’m Good

The path to normalcy after getting out of a bad relationship or situation is always a tough one. That’s what makes it so satisfying when you do emerge on the other side as your old self, or even as a better self. A song about that should be joyful, and that’s exactly what pop singer Wafia has created with her single “I’m Good.” Thematically it strikes the perfect balance between acknowledging the tough times that brought her down, while looking forward to the positivity that’s still ahead. The deliberate and rhythmic delivery of the chorus’ opening lines of “I was bad now I’m better/I was sad now I’m better” is entrancing and meld seemlessly into Wafia’s prolonged, ecstatic delivery of the titular line. Combine that with a beat that will keep you humming for days, and Wafia’s good mood will rub off on listeners quickly.

Ninet – Self Destructive Mind

There are so many things about Ninet’s rock sound I love on her new single “Self Destructive Mind.” There’s a dark, intriguing melancholy you can hear in her electric guitar that shines through even when the music builds. There’s an urgency in how the song grows, with riffs stacking upon riffs and the beat of the drum creating a sound that claws at your brain for attention. There’s a striking maturity in how Ninet writes about those self destructive tendencies that can course through our brains. The weariness you can hear in her voice along with the slight rasp in her vocal timbre lends itself to a track like “Self Destructive Mind,” and to her catalogue as a whole. Just about everything that makes Ninet shine is on display on “Self Destructive Mind,” and put together it makes for an incredible single.

San Holo, James Vincent McMorrow, Yvette Young – always on my mind

Producer San Holo put out his debut album on Friday, the aptly titled album1. Holo (real name Sander van Dijck) is a skilled writer on his own, and he brings in some additional heavy hitters on album1 to give a few songs a bit of extra juice. “always on my mind” is one of those songs. James Vincent McMorrow and Covet’s Yvette Young are both phenomenal, and this team-up makes “always on my mind” one of the best tracks on the album. You can hear each of their strengths throughout the song. San Holo’s production work creates a suitably atmospheric template, McMorrow’s melodic lines and vocals slot right in, and Young’s guitar work and harmonies give “always on my mind” the grounded punch it needs to push it over the edge. On an album full of strong writing and sounds, “always on my mind” stands out even further.

Au/Ra – Emoji

To begin with, Au/Ra always puts out amazing music. “Emoji” is no exception to that rule, with all of the flair we’ve come to expect from the young artist. The hook is killer, the electronic touches are just enough to not overpower her voice, and it all comes together for a pleasant listen. It’s the subject matter here that I’m interested in. Emojis are a part of our culture now. They’re not going away anytime soon, so I think exploring them in artistic areas like music is a natural progression. There are good (this song) and bad (The Emoji Movie) ways to go about it, but I think it’s a valid and fascinating subject to think about. Here Au/ra uses it to detail the complicated and fraught nature of online relationships transitioning into real world, and it really works. “Emoji” is a thoughtful listen on top of being another great track from Au/Ra.

Avril Lavigne – Head Above Water

When I heard Avril Lavigne was back with a new single, I didn’t know what to expect. Would we get a pop-rock throwback reminiscent of her early days? Would we head further into pop territory? I had no idea. I’m glad we got what we did though, because “Head Above Water” is genuinely breathtaking. A ballad through and through, it really is amazing “Head Above Water” is even possible. As Lavigne talked about when the single dropped this week, there was no guarantee she would be able to sing at all after her struggle with Lyme Disease. And yet here we are, with Lavigne’s voice serving as the most powerful aspect of a song full of big moments alongside stirring strings and piano chords. “Head Above Water” stands on its own merits, but the fight Lavigne went through to get here makes it all the more special.


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