February is too short. There’s no warm up for the year. It’s the extended hangover that is January, then approximately five minutes of February, and after that we’re in full swing. I have made no progress on any resolutions or on my giant media backlog, so at this point I may as well kick the can down the road to 2020. It’s not all bad, though. The spring is bringing some amazing releases. The Japanese House drops her debut on Friday, you can’t complain about that. While we wait for all those spring releases, enjoy the last Take 5 of February 2019.

The Maine – My Best Habit

If The Maine are releasing a song, the overwhelming odds are that it will be good. It should come as no surprise then that their new single “My Best Habit” is an instant winner. The hook is catchy with just a little bit of edge in the guitar to spice things up. John O’Callaghan rapid-fire delivery in the pre-chorus is a fun, exciting buildup of energy. The chorus itself is The Maine as we all love them, with a guitar-rich sound and a melody that will please. Their vocal harmonies are on point, and when they deliver those harmonies over nothing but a solitary drum after the bridge, it’s magic. “My Best Habit” joins a long list of excellent tracks from The Maine, and that run doesn’t look likely to change anytime soon.

Kehlani – Love Language

Kehlani’s new project While We Wait should be mandatory listening this week. Go check it out when you’re done here, it’s only 9 songs and 30 minutes long. Each of those songs is brilliant. My personal favorite is album closer “Love Language.” The production on the track is absolutely incredible. The numerous chimes and bells over a warm, inviting beat is one of the best pieces of production work of 2019. Kehlani naturally lights up the track with her excellent vocals. The lyrics are a tender, romantic tale of compatibility and the joy of communication with a partner. This is happy, giving love wrapped up in one song, and it’s just what a listener needs to improve any day. Kehlani knows we all need love, and “Love Language” is her gift to us.

Marissa Nadler, John Cale – Poison

If you want a haunting track, Marissa Nadler is the artist for you. Her 2018 album For My Crimes was a sobering, introspective work that crawls its way under your skin. Nadler is already back with new single “Poison,” and she hasn’t lost a step. The way she lets the notes from her guitar hang in the air will send chills through you. As she ponders whether it would be better to run away from everything, there’s more profound sadness swirling in her voice. She pairs perfectly with John Cale, who is used sparingly, but to great effect as he harmonizes with her. The song ends on the profound question of whether they themselves are the ones at the root of this “poison,” and like the rest of her tracks Nadler offers no easy answer, only uncertainty. This makes “Poison” a deeply moving, thought-provoking track.

Bad Suns – One Magic Moment

One moment can make a profound impact in a life. Similarly, it can take just one simple moment to fall in love with a song. Luckily for fans, “One Magic Moment” from Bad Suns has many of those moments. I find it hard to believe anyone couldn’t love the stirring, piano-scored introduction that begins the track. The chorus is as hopeful as can be, looking towards a brighter, more promising future we can reach out for. Even during the guitar solo or when Bad Suns are at their most instrumentally involved on “One Magic Moment,” there’s a lighthearted feeling and a bounce in the music and lyrics that oozes optimism. Life is a journey, but we can take the time to enjoy the moments and the experiences that make us happy. “One Magic Moment” makes me happy, and it sounds like it makes Bad Suns happy, too.

John Mayer – I Guess I Just Feel Like

John Mayer has done a lot of experimenting with his sound over the years. From big, bold distortion to incorporating elements of folk and Americana, there isn’t much he hasn’t tried. Much of it has worked, but it’s good to remember all Mayer needs is a guitar and a simple tune to make a song work. “I Guess I Just Feel Like” is relatively simple compared to some of his more recent work, but it’s excellent nonetheless. Mayer ponders the woes of the world while he strums, and it sounds like an old friend sitting around a bonfire. Of course there’s a guitar solo on “I Guess I Just Feel Like,” and of course it’s incredible. The solo sounds as thoughtful and wistful as Mayer does while singing. John Mayer is a man with many sounds, and “I Guess I Just Feel Like” is an illustration of the strong base all those sounds come from.

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