Alex Porat's anti-assimilation anthem, and 6 more songs you need to hear this week

Fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now.

Fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now

'Miss Sick World' is the title track of Alex Porat's new 9-song mini album, released in October 2021. (Pat Ryder)

Each week, CBC Music producers come together to highlight Canada's best new tracks.

This week, we got hooked on new songs from:

  • Alex Porat.
  • Justin Bieber.
  • Talk.
  • Kallitechnis featuring Kofi.
  • Keeper E.
  • Keys N Krates featuring Haviah Mighty.
  • ES:MO.

Scroll down to find out why you need to hear them, too.

What new Canadian tunes are you currently obsessed with? Share them with us on Twitter @CBCMusic.

Hit play on our Songs You Need to Hear stream, filled with songs that CBC Music's producers have chosen for their playlists, and tune into CBC Music Mornings every Thursday to hear CBC Music's Jess Huddleston and Saroja Coelho reveal which of these tracks is the standout new Canadian song.

'Miss Sick World,' Alex Porat 

Alex Porat has quickly risen as one of Canada's most promising pop songwriters, having built a strong portfolio of songs about love. But on the title track of her latest mini album, Miss Sick World, Porat digs deeper into another topic that she holds close to her chest. "Miss Sick World" finds a weary Porat singing sombrely about the struggles of assimilation. As a half-Malaysian, half-Polish woman, Porat grew up afraid to embrace her Asian heritage, as she said in a statement: "As a kid, I watered-down who I was and my ethnicity so that I could match those around me and I'll never do it again." Conforming, in this case as model citizen Miss World, means stripping away part of her identity, which she triumphantly pushes against as the quiet acoustic number nears its end. "But I don't want to fit in if I have to be a clone," she sings, proudly, "No, I don't want to fit in at all." — Melody Lau 

'Hailey,' Justin Bieber

Last week was a busy one for Justin Bieber. He shared a poignant new video (starring avowed Belieber Diane Keaton) for his song "Ghost;" Amazon Prime released Justin Bieber: Our World, a documentary about his New Year's Eve 2020 concert; he debuted a fresh new Caesar-style haircut, and he dropped three new songs: the highly produced "Red Eye'' featuring TroyBoi, the meandering ballad "Angels Speak" with remarkable guest vocals from Bieber's longtime producer, Poo Bear; and "Hailey," an uptempo, '80s-recalling pop bop whose beat seems to insist on a vigorous Carlton dance. Bieber's marriage to Hailey Baldwin continues to fuel his songwriting, in this case thrusting his voice to the stratosphere for a chorus that looks ahead to the couple's "golden days." He also alludes to his struggles with anxiety, singing in the second verse, "When the waves start to crash, like a fear from the past/ Just remember that you're all I ever wanted." — Robert Rowat

'Hollywood,' Talk

"Mama, if you need me, I'll be in Hollywood," sings Toronto-via-Ottawa singer-songwriter Talk — the latest in a century's worth of aspiring stars to ramble toward Tinseltown in search of something greater. The thing is, judging from his 163,000 TikTok followers and growing industry buzz, there's a chance he just might make it there. In an era that encourages genre-bending and experimentation, there's something straightforwardly endearing about Talk's classic rock revival — his three singles to date feeling like pages out of the Black Crowes or Pearl Jam's early-'90s playbook with their melodic, strum-to-electric progressions. Not unlike the star-clad getups that Talk routinely sports, "Hollywood" is glittery and optimistic, but once his formidable growl hits, it's clear he means show business. — Jess Huddleston

'Hold me Down,' Kallitechnis feat. Kofi 

Kallitechnis has always been a fan of collaboration — her extensive output is full of features — but her resonant vocals have never been more suited for a duet than on "Hold me Down," with Toronto rapper and singer Kofi. The new track is on the Montreal singer's latest EP, Because it Feels Good, which is an exploration of choosing joy, pleasure and happiness above all else. "Hold me Down" is the story of a couple separated by distance, with both sides clamouring to make things work. Kalli and Kofi trade verses, going back and forth, airing their grievances, but when they come together on the chorus to sing "Please just don't give up," it's clear they both want the same endgame: for the relationship to withstand whatever turbulence is threatening to upend it. In a press release, Kalli said: "This duet is the type of R&B music that I used to daydream and fall in love to, early 2000s hits like Ja Rule, JLO, Ashanti. I'm happy to be making songs like these now." They hit the mark, recreating the chemistry and tangible tension that make songs like "Mesmerize" by Ja Rule and Ashanti so timeless. As Kofi raps about feeling suspicious and insecure, Kalli comes in to assure him with a soulful reminder: "Been around the world, yeah a time or two, look at how I made myself back to you." — Kelsey Adams

'Fourteen,' Keeper E.

"I feel everything at once/ or I feel nothing at all." It only takes Keeper E. half a verse to hit the malaise of the moment, which is part of what we love about the Halifax musician. In the new video for her song "Fourteen," Keeper E. hosts a pink-hued, sometimes twisted birthday party while considering the limits of our bodies. "I wish every day was longer/ my skin it just can't hold me," she sings on the back half of the chorus, overtop a near-meditative synth-and-drum beat and slowed, distorted vocals. "It feels unfair that the homes we have to live in for our entire lives seem to deteriorate constantly after we are born," Keeper E., given name Adelle Elwood, wrote to CBC Music. But in the end, it's still a celebration: surrounded by friends, Elwood laughs uncontrollably while holding the remains of raw eggs that they've just smashed out of a piñata. There's no candy at this party; only reminders of the cycle of life. — Holly Gordon

'Pull Up,' Keys N Krates feat. Haviah Mighty 

Toronto's Keys N Krates have been on a hot streak of singles, with CBC Music already praising previous releases from their upcoming album, Original Classic (out Nov. 12), including "Take it Off" and "Brazilian Love Song." Their latest, "Pull Up" featuring Polaris Music Prize winner Haviah Mighty, is another instant hit. As the trio noted in a statement, "Pull Up" pulls from "everything from baile funk and Miami bass, to Missy Elliott," building an assertive, larger-than-life beat for Mighty to take full advantage of. "I gotta bust my strut/ You know I gotta trust my gut," Mighty raps, as she goes toe-to-toe with the big, metallic bassline before taking a sharp turn toward a more melodic pre-chorus. With both Keys N Krates and Mighty exploring and showing off different sounds, cadences and styles, "Pull Up" is a fireworks display of talent that we can't stop listening and dancing to. — ML 

'Any Other Way' (William Bell cover), ES:MO

ES:MO is the duo of singer-songwriter Elizabeth Shepherd and guitarist Michael Occhipinti, who bring their formidable musicianship and experience — 15 Juno nominations between them — to The Weight of Hope, a new album of covers (and one original) due out in November. The first advance track is a cover of William Bell's "Any Other Way," which was made famous in the '60s by Toronto's trailblazing soul singer Jackie Shane. On their cover, Shepherd and Occhipinti retain the song's soulful leanings, adding touches of country and jazz. Shepherd's voice is as clear as a bell, and especially soothing as she dips low in her range to intone the titular "any other way" at the end of each chorus. Occhipinti takes an expansive solo that makes us pine for the days when many songs included them. Look forward to their covers of Stevie Wonder, Bruce Cockburn, Leonard Cohen and others when their album comes out. The duo has planned a cross-Canada tour starting Oct. 29. Details here— RR