Photo Credit: Jonathan Weiner

The penultimate Take 5 of 2018 is upon us. We’re deep into December now, but that doesn’t mean the rest of our lovely writers don’t have things for you to read. We began our Album of the Year list series this morning, with Molly Hudelson going deep on her favorite album of 2018. We also have more features and show reviews for you before the calendar flips to 2019, plus a selection of premieres we’re sure you’ll enjoy. No matter what time of year it is, we’ll never leave you without great writing to read, we promise. Now let’s get into this week’s Take 5.

MKTO, Ryan Riback – How Can I Forget (Ryan Riback)

When a producer remixes a song, it always helps to have a stellar base to work with. MKTO provided Ryan Riback with a fantastic base in the form of “How Can I Forget,” the band’s incredible single from earlier in the year. Riback smartly lets the first verse proceed largely unaltered besides an increased tempo, reminding listeners how good the original version sounds. Dancier production really starts to pop up as the first verse reaches its end, and Riback takes the soulfulness of the chorus and jumpstarts it with a blast of cheery, delightful synths. The back half of the track keeps that happy energy alongside the great execution of MTKO. While “How Can I Forget” stands perfectly well on its own, Ryan Riback has delivered a fun twist with his remix.

Crywolf – C E P H A L Ø T U S

I love a track that’s chocked full of symbolism and meanings, asking listeners to parse out all the ideas and themes put forward. Crywolf’s “C E P H A L Ø T U S” is the perfect track for that. Wikipedia tells me that a cephalotus is a type of carnivorous plant, which freaks me out because getting eaten by a plant is pretty high up on my list of ways I don’t want to die. In the context of Crywolf’s track it allows for moving and vivid lyrics about growth and blooming as he sings about his mental state and evolution. This is all set over an instrumental that is eerie yet poignant, sparse but complex. Crywolf uses everything from stringed instruments to his own manipulated voice to create the soundscape of his own mind. No matter how many times you listen, “C E P H A L Ø T U S” will keep sharing its meaning with you.

Phoebe Bridgers – Friday I’m In Love

Phoebe Bridgers is phenomenal always. She’s had a banner year between her solo work and as part of of supergroup boygenius. Turns out she’s pretty good with a cover, as well. Bridgers joined Spotify for part of their “Spotify Singles” sessions and recorded an incredible version of The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love.” Where The Cure’s version is about as blissful as you can get, Bridgers brings her own lovely brand of introspection and thoughtfulness to the song. The melodic line in the instrumental translates well when played on a piano, and the echoing harmonies are a nice touch. The original expresses a boisterous, in your face love, but love can be softer and understated too, which really comes through here. Phoebe Bridgers’s “Friday I’m In Love” is a thoughtful take on a ’90s classic and more proof 2018 was her year.

Ali Caldwell – Colors

Sometimes the title of a song tells you all you need to know about the track. That’s the case for Ali Caldwell’s new single “Colors.” This is a vibrant, bright track absolutely full of life. The horn section here is super slick, bringing even the dourest listener to life. Caldwell’s voice can do wonders on its own, and her powerful vocals combined with those horns are absolutely magic. When she croons about all the color she can see in life, you’ll be able to see those colors too. I will always recommend a horn solo, so the outro of this track scores big with me, as well. With a big voice and a bigger instrumental, Ali Caldwell is breathing life into the cold winter months on “Colors.”

ZAYN – Good Years

Regret is a powerful emotion. Every person has their own set of regrets, and the fear of doing things wrong or passing up a great opportunity can be crushing. ZAYN clearly has some thoughts about some of the choices he’s made, and he expresses it with heartbreaking clarity on “Good Years.” This is a pop ballad for the ages, letting ZAYN sing his heart out with very little getting in his way. The title comes from the chorus, which finds him worried that he wasted “all [his] good years” in a bad relationship. The slight hint of panic in his voice at the prospect of having screwed up and the pain over his past are palpable, and it’s affecting to say the least.


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