Chilly Gonzales and Feist's Christmas original, and 6 more songs you need to hear this week
Here are some fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now
Every week, CBC Music producers come together to highlight some of Canada's best new releases. The rule: if it's a song you need to hear, you'll find it on this list.
This week, we have songs from:
- Chilly Gonzales featuring Feist.
- HMLT, Kei-Li featuring Robotaki.
- Haviah Mighty.
- Avenue Beat featuring Jessie Reyez.
- Leif Vollebekk.
- The Darcys.
Scroll down to find out why you need to hear them, too.
What are some Canadian tunes you're currently obsessed with? Share with us on Twitter @CBCMusic.
'The Banister Bough,' Chilly Gonzales feat. Feist
While it's debatable when it's appropriate to officially roll out the Christmas tunes, we highly recommend spinning Chilly Gonzales's new collection of holiday songs once you finally decide to bring some jangle into your playlist. A Very Chilly Christmas is mostly packed with renditions of classics like "Silent Night" and "Last Christmas," but there is a beautiful original in the form of the Feist collaboration, "The Banister Bough." A hushed, Vince Guaraldi-esque number, Gonzales's warm piano notes serve as the foundation for Feist's richly expressive voice as she paints a wintry scene that feels like a sonic blanket being wrapped around your body. — Melody Lau
'Daydreamin',' HMLT, Kei-Li feat. Robotaki
In 2020, daydreaming has become our escape from the drudgery of confinement and this new down-tempo neo-soul song from HMLT, Kei-Li and Robotaki sets the perfect mood for it. Introduced by a wavering electric piano, Kei-Li enters with hypnotic vocals — "Daydreamin' with you/ I'm leaving on a full moon" — while a rock-steady bass line and unfussy drums propel the song. It's hard to imagine a simpler (or more effective) chorus: the word "dream," sung high in Kei-Li's register and stretched over four beats, then repeated — it's an irresistible invitation to levitate, meditate or whatever it takes to achieve that out-of-body radiance we all crave these days. — Robert Rowat
'Atlantic,' Haviah Mighty
The number 13 is a potent one for Haviah Mighty, whose debut album title, 13th Floor, referred to both the 13th Amendment and the superstition of the (often erased) 13th floor. So it's apt that the Toronto rapper dropped her first new single since that 2019 debut on Friday the 13th, once again reclaiming power over what many consider an unlucky marker. Co-produced by Haviah Mighty and Mighty Prynce, "Atlantic" thematically builds on Haviah Mighty's past work, questioning money's validity in dictating human value, its role in corruption and its power over marginalized communities. "Money cost more than most things/ ain't too far from rope strings," she raps on the chorus, setting the tone over a down-tempo trap beat interspersed with unsettling sirens. But it's this half-sung verse that hits hardest: "Never seen Atlanta but we travelled the Atlantic/ all my ancestors vanished, all aboard Titanic/ I just hope they didn't (where did I come from?)/ I just know they didn't panic." — Holly Gordon
'F2020 (Remix/Radio Edit),' Avenue Beat feat. Jessie Reyez
This year didn't really go according to plan for anyone, and Jessie Reyez isn't holding back on the details in her latest collaboration, Avenue Beat's "F2020 (Remix/Radio Edit)." "Yo, my cat died and a global pandemic took over my life/ and I put out some music that nobody liked," Reyez states bluntly, although we would argue against the music part; after all, Reyez's debut album was one of our highlights of 2020. On the chorus, she lays out what almost everyone is thinking: "Lowkey eff 2020/ I don't know about everybody else/ But I think that I am kinda done/ Can we just get to 2021?" Put this track on repeat as you count down the final days of this cursed year. — ML
'Long Blue Light' and '29 #Strafford APTS (Bon Iver cover),' Leif Vollebekk
It's been one year since Montreal's Leif Vollebekk dropped his critically acclaimed fourth album, New Ways, and he marked the occasion with the release of a two-song EP that includes a new song ("Long Blue Light") and a Bon Iver cover ("#29 Strafford APTS") — a combination that serves as perfect accompaniment to our slow descent into November hibernation. Built on a soothing structure of percussion and guitar, "Long Blue Light" was written during the New Ways sessions but feels strikingly apt for today: "My eyelids are heavy/ my spirit is numb/ don't know where I'm heading/ don't know where I'm from," Vollebekk sings, unintentionally striking a bit of a pandemic chord. A gorgeous dobro addition by Cindy Cashdollar sets a contemplative mood, and transitions beautifully into the cover from Bon Iver's 2016 album, 22, a Million — unsurprisingly, as Vollebekk's voice and piano skills are a perfect pairing for the Wisconsin songwriter's work. — HG
'Cowboy Movies,' the Darcys
The Darcys' fourth album, Fear & Loneliness, perfectly evokes the feelings of what many people go through when they leave their city behind in order to make it in Los Angeles. Hope and romance, quickly followed by broken dreams, isolation and paranoia. Over 11 tracks, the songwriting duo of Jason Couse and Wes Marskell — two Toronto transplants now living in L.A. themselves — go on a dark disco odyssey as they deal with the ebbs and flows of pursuing fame, channelling both the '70s sheen of the sunset strip as well as the dark side of the Laurel Canyon.
"Cowboy Movies'' is one of the more down-tempo songs on the album, dusty and shimmery at the same time, like the sound of a chromed-out car running on empty through a desert with no gas station in sight. Just as the song crescendos, Couse is there to remind us that sometimes you just can't be prepared for what the future holds, singing, "All the cowboy movies didn't prepare me, or give me what I need/ 'Cause the last time I checked, I was a wreck." — Jesse Kinos-Goodin