Here we are. After nearly three and a half years at Substream and a touch over two years of doing this column, today is my last Take 5. When you write any single column for that long I think there are inevitably highs and lows in it, but in this case the highs are far more numerous. Discovering new music is my favorite part of this industry, and getting to share my finds with everyone who has ever read this has been a wonderful, joyful, rewarding experience. Working with the wonderful writers we have, learning from some truly fantastic editors, and simply spreading the joy of music here at Substream is one of the biggest honors of my life. No matter where I go and what I do from here, this period of my life will hold special meaning to me, thanks to all of my coworkers and all of you readers. Thank you all. Now, for the last time, you and I will dive into this week’s Take 5.

Best Coast – For The First Time

I love when a band comes back not only thriving musically, but emotionally as well. That’s what makes Best Coast’s new track “For The First Time” so exciting and satisfying to listen to. The song is Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno’s first new music since 2015 album California Nights, and you can tell immediately the time away served them well. With warm and soothing tones from the guitars of the duo combined with production from Carlos De La Garza, “For The First Time” simply feels and sounds happy. The whole track is uplifting, with Cosentino cataloguing all the ways in which her life has improved. More than that, she still acknowledges her faults and the process through which we have to improve as people and improve mentally. Best Coast seem like they’re in a good place with “For The First Time,” and I am happy to have them back.

SHY Martin – Make Us Never Happen

Swedish artist SHY Martin is joining the rare “back-to-back Take 5s” club this week. Last week she appeared as a feature on Boy In Space’s most recent single “On A Prayer,” and her own new track “Make Us Never Happen” lands her here this week. What grabbed my attention with the new track is the tough emotional honesty and truth she tackles in the lyrics. “Make Us Never Happen” finds SHY Martin in the aftermath of a relationship that has imploded, but focuses more on her wishing it never happened more to spare the other person’s pain than herself. There are some relationships where both parties have a major hand in it falling apart, and parsing through that truth to try and heal isn’t easy. SHY Martin navigates that territory well here, with the gentle but driving instrumental giving her a catchy backdrop to do it against. There are no easy answers on “Make Us Never Happened,” which makes it so compelling.

The Mowgli’s – Fighting With Yourself

The Mowgli’s have had a long journey with ups and downs during their time in music. While the sadness and negative emotions we feel can be upsetting, it’s important to remember they’re natural and to to let them happen so we can process and move on. That’s the lesson in the band’s newest song “Fighting With Yourself,” and it’s delivered with some peak Mowgli’s flair and energy. Some of the aspects hearken back to their history, like the uptempo guitar riffs and drumming that will have you tapping your foot along as you listen. Some aspects are new, like Katie Jayne Earl taking the lead on vocals and absolutely crushing it. The chorus is going to have fans shouting it for many concerts to come, and that it’s such a good message only makes it better. The Mowgli’s continue to press on, and we’re all better for it.

Matthew Chaim – Winter/Fall

Matthew Chaim released his album The Mathematics of Nature on Friday, and it contains all the musical ambition and wizardry that single “Reason” did a couple months ago that first brought it to my attention. Nowhere on the album is that more evident than on the expansive and epic closing track “Winter/Fall.” Starting from a simple piano chord and violin, over six minutes this track builds up multiple musical ideas and themes and resolves them, while also embodying the transitional idea presented by the title. Chaim’s performance is good, connecting all of these elements and giving them enough common ground to function as one track. Still, it’s the writing, production, and thoughtful storytelling in the music that’s the star of the show here. Set aside some time to listen to “Winter/Fall” and let all of it wash over you.

Tory Lanez, T-Pain – Jerry Sprunger

What do you get when you take a rapper who already has some crooning chops and pair him with one of the best crooners in R&B? You get magic, and you get Tory Lanez and T-Pain’s “Jerry Sprunger.” Even the instrumental is built around a soulful vocal sample, and both men are in top form here. Separately, they both do solid work on their verses, letting the women in their lives know just how into them they are. It’s the hook where they come together where “Jerry Sprunger” shines brightest, with an engaging, mesmerizing beat combines with the vocals from both artists to really captivate the listener. I am also a big fan of the framing device in the music video, where T-Pain gradually gets more exasperated at Lanez putting off their plans together. Humor and quality music? That’s a winning combination.

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