Bébé Buckskin, Tona, Noble Oak and more: songs you need to hear this week
5 fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now
Here at CBC Music, we're always on high alert for new songs by Canadian artists, especially during this time of social isolation, when music continues to provide entertainment, comfort and distraction.
This week, we're listening to new tracks from Tona, Noble Oak, Plants and Animals, Bébé Buckskin and Pyne. Scroll down to find out why you need to listen, too.
What new Canadian tunes are you currently obsessed with? Share them with us on Twitter @CBCMusic.
For well over a decade, Scarborough artist Tona has released some of the best independent rap records to come out of the city. Tona makes rap for rap fans, delivering bar after bar of smart, versatile rhymes in his trademark baritone voice. Over his career, which includes a Juno Award as a member of Naturally Born Strangers, Tona has proven to be one of the most consistent, but also most underrated, rappers — a position he addresses multiple times on his new album, July 26. "If I wasn't so unconventional I'd probably make something lighter for radio," he raps on "Differences," a standout cut that sees him reminiscing on his early days over a minor-key piano melody and trunk-rattling drums. While the sound of Toronto has changed a lot since Tona debuted in 2007, he's proven to be a mainstay through it all. As he raps on the chorus, "I do it till they understand the difference." — Jesse Kinos-Goodin
'Magic Eyes,' Noble Oak
"My intent from day 1 was literally to make the most beautiful songs that I possibly can," says Vancouver's Patrick Fiore, a.k.a. Noble Oak. The 10 songs on his new album, Horizon, fulfil that promise with wistful melodies and lush production that conjure expansive, luminous vistas. "Never say never," begins "Magic Eyes," whose optimism gleams through a mist of synthesizer, piano, finger snaps and gentle bongos while Fiore's falsetto ascends. It's music that affords both a worthwhile journey inward and an exhilarating out-of-body experience. — Robert Rowat
'House on Fire,' Plants and Animals
On their first album in four years, Montreal band Plants and Animals is determined to make a bold statement and its lead single does just that. "House on Fire" kicks off with a heavy, chugging bass line that's soon joined by a number of other grooving elements: thick synths that jump in unexpectedly, a keyboard part that dances alongside singer Warren Spicer's soaring vocals, and cowbell and finger snap accents to tie it all together. It's a crowded description but it perfectly builds into an inferno of its own as Spicer sings about his concerns over his friend self-medicating, leading Spicer to an image of him falling asleep with the stove on. "Your house is on fire!" he shouts over the chorus, howling the word 'fire' with an extra punch of urgency. A bold statement indeed, and one that makes us beg for more. — Melody Lau
'Muddy Tracks,' Bébé Buckskin
As soon as Bébé Buckskin's vocals start on "Muddy Tracks," the lead song on the Nêhiyaw singer-songwriter's sophomore EP, Alanis Morissette comes to mind. Bébé Buckskin's raw, powerful voice has all the emotion and range that Morissette used to tear through the '90s with Jagged Little Pill — and it's hard not to imagine Bébé Buckskin, the Northern Alberta singer known as Danielle Ghostkeeper offstage, doing something similar. Bébé Buckskin unleashes her potency over the blues-rock number, the gritty electronic guitar matching her as they both slowly build to a crashing halt by song's end. "Muddy Tracks" is one of five new songs on Askiskiy, which precedes Ghostkeeper's forthcoming full-length album, recorded at FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. We can't wait to hear more. — Holly Gordon
'To Silver,' Pyne
Alanna Stuart has lent her voice to a number of projects over the years, from providing backup vocals on Arkells' 2018 album, Rally Cry, to the Queer Songbook Orchestra, to her partnership with Ian Swain in Bonjay. Pyne marks a new solo project for Stuart, one that's dedicated to "freeing up herself and airing out sonic experiments," as a Facebook post notes. "To Silver" is her debut single, a "janky dancefloor warm-up track and a love note, in retrospect." Mastered by Jeremy Greenspan, the track is a small snippet (clocking in at just two-and-a-half minutes) of what we can only assume is something bigger and more boisterous. Stuart's voice alone is a big enough draw here as it simmers and builds atop a stomping beat, but the rhythms and production also point to an exciting, more dance-oriented direction we think can be a perfect fit. — ML