This is it, everyone. The last month of 2018 is upon us. It’s time for snow and Christmas music and spending time with our loved ones. It’s time for end of year lists and watching Elf 30 times and wearing hideous sweaters. It’s a pretty incredible time, and I hope you get to enjoy it to its fullest. For a few more weeks you’ll have Take 5 to help you enjoy it as well. Speaking of which, now that we’re in December I like to lay out the schedule for this column for the end of the year. There will be two more Take 5s on the 10th and 17th, and then it’ll be done for the year. I’ll return on January 7th to begin 2019 on the right foot. I’ll also mention it a ton over the next couple weeks, but a new Spotify playlist will be started for 2019’s picks, so make sure to subscribe to that as well!
CAPPA – Sux
It’s always good to remember your self-worth, especially when going through a breakup. It’s a tough time, and knowing you’re still great is key. CAPPA has turned this thought into an inspiring, often humorous electro-pop jam on her new single “Sux.” Over an impeccably pointed instrumental, CAPPA details a breakup due to her ex wanting to “talk to God, and other girls.” The chorus is a masterpiece, as she says in no uncertain terms no one will ever live up to her because everyone else “sux.” The track is a great confidence booster if you just got out of a relationship, and is a fun track for anyone who agrees that a lot of people do in fact suck. CAPPA does not suck, and neither does “Sux.”
Meek Mill – Championships
Meek Mill has had a good 2018. While his trek through the legal system isn’t over, he was released from prison in April. Mill is also a sports fan, so the 76ers turning into a contender in the NBA and the Eagles winning the Super Bowl in February clearly spoke to him. In many ways, his new album Championships and its titular song are celebrations. The track is backed by a jubilant horn sample, and finds Mill overjoyed at his and his city’s recent strides forward. Mill isn’t satisfied with being the only winner, though. Throughout “Championships” he takes aim at the inherent racism in the systems and institutions of our country, with the goal of making sure no one ever has to go through what he did over the last couple years. His joy and his anger are both apparent on the track, and it makes for a powerful listen. Meek Mill is on top of the world right now, and he’s trying to bring everyone else up with him.
Future Animals – Crazy Love
Love is a powerful emotion. We all know this, so it stands to reason that a song about in intense love should be a powerful tune. Future Animals have delivered that power with new single “Crazy Love.” The production is actually pretty minimal when you think of “powerful,” but everything from the synths to the bits of piano you hear each carry a thundering impact. When “Crazy Love” hits the chorus and the gospel choir comes in, it’s tough not to be overwhelmed by the emotion of the track. The band then weaves each tiny element and the choir together to create a crescendo unlike anything else you’ll hear this week. This is what real, intense love feels like. It’s hard to really capture the totality of love in a song, but Future Animals have done it on “Crazy Love.”
Taylor Janzen – New Mercies
I am definitely one of the people who is their own worst critic. I’m very hard on myself, and I often have to reel myself back in and remember it’s okay to be okay with myself. That’s why Taylor Janzen’s new single “New Mercies” hits me so hard. Behind the driving guitar Janzen plays so well, there’s a song about bursting through the cynicism and allowing ourselves leniency. “Is it too late for me to believe in the morning’s new mercies” Janzen sings, and the pain and doubt in her voice will break your heart. The bridge is another highlight, lulling down into a soft hum before roaring back for the final repetition of the chorus. Forgiving yourself is a powerful thing, and Taylor Janzen’s “New Mercies” is a powerful track.
Aly & AJ – With You
Aly & AJ returned last year in earnest with their EP Ten Years. On Friday the sisters released the deluxe edition of the EP, which includes a couple live recordings that you should go listen to immediately after reading this column. The new edition also comes with a new track, the excellent “With You.” It begins with an incredibly ’80s sounding synth section, but quickly incorporates more modern production techniques into the mix as well. It’s a slow, tender love song wrapped in layers of electronic influence. The heavier synths are a fun addition to get you moving, and the lighter fare is perfect to slow dance to if you and your partner skew towards the synthier side of romantic tunes. “With You” shows Aly & AJ are heading into 2019 as strong as ever.
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