Clairmont the Second, Robin Thicke, Neon Dreams and more: songs you need to hear this week
Each week, CBC Music producers come together to highlight Canada's best new tracks.
While kicking off the new year, we got hooked on new songs from Clairmont the Second, Justice Der, Neon Dreams and Robin Thicke. Scroll down to find out why you need to hear them.
What new Canadian tunes are you currently obsessed with? Share them with us on Twitter @CBCMusic.
'Grip,' Clairmont the Second
Toronto rapper Clairmont the Second landed on the Polaris Music Prize long list last year with his album Lil Mont from the Ave, and while he didn't make it onto the short list, his latest single is an early sign that he's making a serious run for top honours in 2019. "Grip" is a rather low-key, minimalist track that clocks in at under three minutes, but Clairmont wastes no time, filling each second with spitfire bars reflecting on his life and his experiences. It's quite possibly his best work yet. The rapper told the Fader that "Grip" — as well as his upcoming project, which is already completed — stemmed from "what came naturally to me." It's that ease, deployed with such sharp precision, that's going to make Clairmont the Second an important name to keep an eye on in the coming months.
— Melody Lau
'Age of Consent' (New Order cover), Justice Der
Guitarist Justice Der is killing it with the covers these days. Since March 2018, the Humber College grad, who divides his time between Saskatoon and Toronto, has been laying down an impressive series of them — songs by artists including Daniel Caesar, Drake, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Burt Bacharach, John Mayer and now New Order. Der's take on this 1983 classic is serenely ambient, and his improvisatory skills keep renewing your interest without ever disrupting the soulful vibe.
— Robert Rowat
'High School Dropout,' Neon Dreams
There's something to be said for unflinching positivity, particularly at this time of year, and Neon Dreams frontman Frank Kadillac has plenty of it in the Halifax band's new single and video. "Get your head up, get your head in the clouds/ keep on dreaming, keep on dreaming out loud," he sings before the chorus kicks in, wryly pointing out that he's a high-school dropout who's doing just fine, thank you (something Kadillac has posted about openly on Instagram in the past). "High School Dropout" is a sing- and dance-along anthem for the new year's resolution-makers ready to look up — and straight ahead.
— Holly Gordon
'Testify,' Robin Thicke
Just before Christmas, Robin Thicke released a new song that got people talking because it addresses all the things going on in the Canadian-American musician's personal life: the sudden death of his father, the failure of his marriage, and a miscarriage suffered by his current girlfriend. And while "Testify" has clearly been a cathartic project, the real headline is that Thicke has returned to the simple, soulful, smooth R&B that made us fall in love with his voice in the first place. Accompanied only by acoustic guitar and subtle percussion, his disencumbered singing takes on an immediacy we'd forgotten, and his gorgeous falsetto just soars. — RR