It’s April, and I think spring is finally here. The snow is gone, flowers will be blooming soon, and there are a huge number of great spring releases rapidly approaching us. It’s also April Fools’ Day, and I briefly thought about ways I could incorporate that into the column this week. Do I pick the same song five times? Do I only pick interludes to go on the list? After mulling it over, I decided I love all of you readers too much to do that to you. So rest assured, there will be no shenanigans when it comes to this week’s Take 5. There’s just the great music you’re used to. Let’s get into it.
Kat Cunning – Birds
A powerful metaphor can lift a song greatly. The vivid imagery can capture the imagination of the listener and really drive the point home. Kat Cunning (who you may recognize from The Deuce on HBO) delivers just such a metaphor on “Birds.” The imagery of a swarm of birds filling up her brain and leading to restlessness and sowing insecurity is such a brilliant visualization of a feeling many of us can relate to. Cunning drives home the message further with a deliberate, expressive turn on the piano. The moment during the chorus where her voice rises reverently alongside chant-like backing vocals is an incredible bit of writing and performance. Through imagery and execution, Kat Cunning will capture your ear on “Birds.”
TWEN – Waste
Nashvile’s TWEN have wasted no time putting their best foot forward. Jane Fitzsimmons and Ian Jones are doing great work on their debut single “Waste.” The track is dense and fuzzy, full of guitar riffs layered over even more riffs, but it never bogs down. Fitzsimmons’s voice and enunciation is hazy where it needs to be, blending into the track to create a sonic blur of music. In other parts, she cuts through the music with precision, especially when delivering the chorus and imploring all of us to waste some time with her. Jones’s riffs are strong, and each twist and turn of the guitar fits in with the rest so nary a crack ever shows. TWEN show they are clearly a band to keep an eye on with “Waste.”
Okay Kaya – Believe
“Believe” is a perfect track. Cher is a perfect artist. These two things are settled. What makes “Believe” work is the subject matter of isolation and sorrow churning underneath the sonic blast of the music. New Jagjaguwar-signee Okay Kaya heard that isolation and sorrow and built her entire cover of “Believe” around it. This version aches and shudders along with each agonizing moment where we truly don’t know if we deserve love after what we’ve been through. Okay Kaya’s soft, mournful delivery accentuates the lyrics, and the minimalistic instrumental contains just the right amount of nods to the original while still behaving entirely as its own entity. A good cover takes a great original and gives it its own memorable spin, and the melancholy rendition of “Believe” by Okay Kaya certainly fits that bill.
The Maine – Slip The Noose
I’m sure you’re aware of this by now if you’ve been reading Substream at all recently, but The Maine have a new album out. You Are Okay is the latest from the quintet, and the album starts with a bang. “Slip The Noose” begins with some beautiful vocal harmonies, and it sounds like this new album might be a little bit on the mellow side. Then the drumroll kicks in, and “Slip The Noose” goes into overdrive. The sincerity we’ve all come to love from The Maine never leaves, and actually is amplified by the boost in energy on the track. There are dramatic slowdowns, fast-paced instrumental breaks, and those harmonies honed through years of writing and performing together just get better and better. The Maine aren’t slowing down in the least, and they show it here on the very first track of Slip The Noose.
MUNNYCAT – don’t stop (drip drip drop)
Now that we’re through a fourth of the year(!), summer is blissfully within view. That means we need some fun tracks to start throwing onto our playlists. Thankfully, MUNNYCAT is here with the answer. “don’t stop (drip drip drop)” is pure joy and enjoyment in musical form. Khaledzou and K808 have outdone themselves here, with a beat that bops along like the drips and drops in the title. Numerous vocal effects enhance the fun, and if there was ever an electric whir or buzz you wanted to hear on a track, it’s on “don’t stop.” The track finds the perfect balance of maintaining a straightforward melody to groove along to while also showcasing the wonder of the duo’s production. That outro where everything drops out and MUNNYCAT rebuild the instrumental piece by piece is especially magical. With “don’t stop,” MUNNYCAT have delivered us summer a little bit early.
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