Discovery is one of the greatest parts of the music listening experience. Contrary to what you might believe, I have not heard of every single band and artist. Every week I get introduced to acts that are entirely new to me. It’s one of the best parts of this job, as it means I am never short on things to listen to. I love putting on something for the first time and connecting with it. It’s the ability to feel that over and over again that makes this job so rewarding. I hope you feel roughly the same way sometimes when you read Take 5. Let’s get into the column this week.

Fickle Friends – Amateurs

There need to be more songs that heavily feature keys. This is a hill I will die on. If you need proof of my claim, you only need to listen to Fickle Friends’s new track “Amateurs.” The song is built around the keys, and the result is excellent. The track is bouncy and lively due to that through-line, and the rest of the instrumental builds on it in fun and captivating ways. Whether it’s putting some distortion in or leaning heavily into electronic influences, the song adds something to those keys that will catch your ear every time. Combine that with Natti Shiner’s catchy vocals, and you have something special. I can always rely on Fickle Friends to back up my good musical takes.

Yungblud – casual sabotage

As he discussed in our interview with him last week, Yungblud views his own moniker and his music as larger than himself. A great example of that is the track “casual sabotage” from his new EP the underrated youth. One of the gentler tracks on the EP, “casual sabotage” is Yungblud at his most introspective and relatable. It’s the extension of his hand out to his fans, letting them know that behind all the music, he’s just like them, facing the same doubts and problems. With excellent production from Matt Schwartz that gives his musings an epic scale to work against, “casual sabotage” embodies all that Yungblud stands for.

Mayer Hawthorne – Over

Now it’s time to introduce a little bit of groove into Take 5 this week. Mayer Hawthorne has always known how to make a track swing, and he’s putting that knowledge to good use on new track “Over.” There have to be some funky horns for a track like this, and “Over” has them in ample amount. The glimmering chords that progress the song are a dream to listen to. Hawthorne pushes his vocals to the max, with an upper range that’s delicate and soulful, and vocal harmonies that shine. Sure, the lyrics are about clinging to a relationship that is clearly done, but you can always lean on the funk to make you feel better. Mayer Hawthorne has that funk for you.

talker – Keep Me Safe

Letting go of someone is sometimes the best thing to do. This isn’t just true to preserve your own self. It can be what’s best for them, as well. It’s that later scenario that’s often the toughest to come to grips with. LA’s Celeste Tauchar, who performs under the name talker, struggles with that on her moving new track “Keep Me Safe.” With a pronounced drum beat to back her struggle, “Keep Me Safe” is her internal battle between what she wants and what she knows is best. That’s not an easy conversation to have with yourself, and the weight of Tauchar’s emotions in her voice sells that here. The musical crescendo as we approach the last chorus mirrors the internal conflict and makes for a stirring listen. There’s no easy winner in a scenario like this, but you’ll win by giving “Keep Me Safe” a listen.

Caroline Polachek – Caroline Shut Up

Of all the album releases last week, Caroline Polachek’s Pang is my favorite I’ve heard so far. And on the album, “Caroline Shut Up” is my favorite track. The deliberately paced and delivered track finds Polachek deeply in love. That’s great, we’ve all been there and it rules! But we’ve also all gotten into our own heads about it, which is what this song is about and where it shines. “Sometimes I wonder do I love you too much? Then I tell myself ‘Caroline, shut up,” the chorus goes. It could be played as a joke, and on some levels that bluntness is funny. But Polachek treats it completely seriously, which is to the track’s benefit. Overthinking is something that happens in love, and telling yourself to shut up and trusting that you actually deserve this good thing is important. “Caroline Shut Up” is fun, insightful, and a great listen, which is why it’s here.

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