We’re deep into July, which means for most of us we’re well into the warmest part of the year. This weekend was miserable, and I only went outside twice. This unfortunately isn’t going to get better anytime soon, but that’s not going to stop you from going to outdoor concerts and festivals. Nor should it, those things are fun! But it’s going to continue to be important to take care of yourself when it’s hot out there. The CDC has a list of tips for preventing you from getting into trouble in the heat, with all the standards like dressing lightly and staying hydrated. They also have a list of signs for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, because we should all be taking care of each other out there. I’m trying to see each and every one of you healthy and happy, so please take care of yourselves. Now then, onto Take 5.
Rich Brian – Kids
Rich Brian has been setting the internet and many tastemakers’ radars on fire for awhile now, but he’s about to reach a whole new level. His second album The Sailor is due out on Friday, and we got a taste of what we’re in for last week with his new single “Kids.” Over a triumphant beat produced by some of the best in the business (Bekon, The Donuts, Frank Dukes), Rich Brian takes a few minutes to coronate himself and look back at how he got here. It’s a mixture of confidence and reflection that’s hard to pull off, but he’s always had an ability to navigate his emotions deftly. From shoutouts to his parents and siblings to musings on his rise and his future ambitions, Rich Brian weaves his words into a breathtaking display of songwriting. Rich Brian is here, and “Kids” is one of his crowning songs.
EVVY – OOMS
It’s not easy to rid yourself of negative emotions. Those are always the ones that tend to hang onto you long after they’re useful. New York electro-pop EVVY took an extended break following a family crisis in 2015, and she’s been working on herself ever since. Her return single “OOMS,” which stands for “Out Of My System,” shows how far she’s come and her continued growth as an artist. While electro-pop is definitely the correct description for her music with the copious number of effects and synths used, there’s also a grounded, thoughtful weightiness to the music that gives it the same kick as any live instrumentation. The lyrics are framed as EVVY giving herself a reminder to ride the wave and let herself heal and grow, which gives the track an intimate feeling while still serving as guide for those who need it. EVVY is back, and “OOMS” shows she hasn’t lost a single step.
Chelsea Wolfe – American Darkness
You can never know quite what to expect from Chelsea Wolfe, but it’s a safe bet it’ll be good. Case in point, new track “American Darkness” completely blew me away last week. The track is one of Wolfe’s quieter numbers, relying on an acoustic guitar and other strings to provide most of the music. The little squeaks and slides along the guitar’s neck make for a nice, raw touch to the track. Wolfe’s vocals are controlled and fleeting to match the softer tones of the song, but still brim with the power and conviction she brings to all her songs. “American Darkness” is a fitting title for the track, as the track contains a certain eeriness and vision that creeps in slowly but surely, filling the listener as the song progresses. Few artists can capture moods and innovate to that level, but Chelsea Wolfe is surely one of them.
Charli XCX, Christine and the Queens – Gone
Give me literally everything Charli XCX is putting out recently and put it on an endless loop. Her latest single “Gone,” with Christine and the Queens, is one of her best from the Charli album cycle. A more metallic, harsher edge is present in the production here, which fits Charli’s lyrics about feeling insecure and judged by others. She has the perfect voice for the kind of big, bombastic choruses that “Gone” has, and the result is a hook that might be one of the best of the year. Christine and the Queens are not to be underrated on this song either, as everyone’s voices work strongly together, including during the outro when merged with some cool effects and more techno-inspired sounds. If you want something to play in your head for the rest of the day, “Gone” is what you’re looking for.
Zoya, Jack Harlow – Bad Girls Dream
The heart wants what the heart wants, as they say. And in some cases, the heart just wants a temporary fling. This is the case on Zoya’s new single “Bad Girls Dream.” The instrumental is relaxed and charming, with an interesting use of guitar on top of a rolling beat that never upstages the lyrics. Zoya is clear about what she wants, even if it’s not everyone’s notion of a good idea. It’s unapologetic and confident, which combines with the instrumental to create a song that you can chill to but still get a strong message out of. Rapper Jack Harlow also turns in a strong performance, stringing together syllables and moving the story along at a blistering pace as a nice change-up in the middle of the track. No matter what your heart wants, Zoya has what your ears want with “Bad Girls Dream.”
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