Music

Backxwash, Busty and the Bass, Boslen and more: songs you need to hear this week

7 fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now.

7 fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now

Vancouver artist Boslen released his debut EP, Black Lotus, in 2019. (Boslen/Facebook)

Here at CBC Music, we're always on high alert for new songs by Canadian artists.

This week, we're listening to new tracks from Boslen, Le Couleur, Mise en Scene, Sultan + Shepard and Okan, plus outstanding collaborations from Backxwash featuring DeathIrl and Ada Rook, and Busty and the Bass featuring Illa J and Jon Connor. 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.


'Stigmata,' Backxwash feat. DeathIrl & Ada Rook

Fresh off her Polaris Music Prize shortlist nomination, Montreal artist Backxwash is releasing a followup EP this week called Stigmata. The songs on Stigmata, according to Exclaim, will all work around samples of Christian death metal bands including its title track, which lifts its sonic blueprint from Finnish band Renascent's 2004 release "Son of God." Featuring a verse by DeathIrl and killer guitar contributions from Black Dresses' Ada Rook, "Stigmata" combines religious imagery with brazen production as Backxwash rips through the chorus with aplomb. Backxwash herself said that this is her favourite track she's ever made, and it may be ours, too. — Melody Lau


'Go so Far,' Busty and the Bass feat. Illa J and Jon Connor

An urbane trombone sets the soulful tone of this new song from Montreal's Busty and the Bass, the sixth advance track from the octet's Eddie, due out Aug. 14 on Arts & Crafts. The laid-back tempo of "Go so Far" contrasts nicely with Evan Crofton's slick vocals, doubled at the octave for extra snap. Rap verses from Illa J and Jon Connor add vitality while Scott Bevin's trumpet flirts with the stratosphere — yet another instance of this band exceeding its own high standard for sophisticated hip hop/funk/jazz/soul fusion. — Robert Rowat


'Désert,' Le Couleur

This new seven-minute single from Montreal trio Le Couleur has two distinct chapters: first, a light, highly danceable disco-pop banger, followed by an unexpected guitar solo that turns things into psych-pop territory. "In the vastness of life, this song is a musical painting of a desert where one always crosses paths with mirages that represent a death that haunts you and attracts you with gorgeous assets," said the band — which consists of Laurence Giroux-Do, bassist Patrick Gosselin and drummer Steeven Chouinard — via statement. It's all a little intangible, which is perfect for these hazy days. While settling into the latter half of summer, "Désert" is excellent accompaniment. — Holly Gordon


'Espiral,' Okan

Arranged by Okan's co founders, married Afro-Cuban musicians Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne, "Espiral" is an Afro-Cuban chant mixed with guajira music. The chant, which Rodriguez and Savigne were introduced to in 2018, involves singing to Babalu Aye, the deity of health and luck. The pair later learned about another key part of the chant's inspiration: the story of Saint Lazarus, who was exiled and buried alive before digging himself out of the earth and walking for miles to safety in new lands.

Rodriguez and Savigne connected thematically with the parallels in their own lives as immigrants to Canada. The resulting song, the title track off their forthcoming album, is a perfect introduction to Okan, the music they carry with them, and how they're cultivating and creating a sonic landscape together. There's something deeply joyful about how Rodriguez and Savigne's voices blend, and the buoyancy of Rodriguez's violin strings over Savigne's frenzied percussion. "Espiral" is a tribute to Okan's separate but shared journey, a vibrant dream made real and an incredible late addition to 2020's song of the summer competition. — Andrea Warner


'Guaba,' Sultan + Shepard

If you've been missing the magic of the dance floor, Sultan + Shepard's latest release, "Guaba," might hurt a little, but in a good way. The spellbinding title track from their new, three-song release makes you wish your system was louder and dancing partners closer. "Guaba" reflects a sonic turn the Montrealers have recently taken, focusing more on the melodic side of electronic music. Crafted at the beginning of the pandemic when "the world felt surreal and uncertain but there was a beautiful intensity and focus to everything we were doing in the studio," as the duo posted on Facebook, "Guaba" begins with keys and delicate guitar that transport you into a world of yearning and euphoria where (one day soon?) we can all dance together again. — Ben Aylsworth


'My Ways,' Boslen

Representing Vancouver's hip-hop scene, Boslen has released his second single of the year, a tropical-pop-inflected number called "My Ways." When injury put an end to his promising rugby career (he'd been tagged for team Canada), Boslen returned to his teenage passion of music and has built an enthusiastic following in the months since dropping his debut EP, Black Lotus, in 2019. On "My Ways," his sung rap melds seamlessly with Latin rhythms, bolstered by steel drums and a trumpet that recalls Afro-Cuban jazz. Speaking from experience, Boslen sends a positive message about staying versatile and true to yourself, as he asserts in the chorus: "I've been too stuck in my ways/ I talk when I want to talk." — RR


'Love and War,' Mise en Scene

"You want a war/ I want to win." The chorus to Mise en Scene's blistering new punk-rock song is a little cheeky, but it's coming from a vulnerable place. "Sometimes we fight when we are in love so that we can 'win,' establish dominance and feel less vulnerable, other times we want to fight for the sake of it — to test someone's love and dedication," guitarist/vocalist Stef Johnson and drummer Jodi Dunlop explained via statement. Through "Love and War," the Winnipeg duo looks at the similarities between the supposedly opposite titular words, while Dunlop's frenetic drumming makes sure the stakes always feel high. "Love and War" is the excuse you need to scream outside your heart. — HG

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