Crown Land's 18-minute epic, and 5 more songs you need to hear this week

Listen to fresh Canadian tracks from JP Saxe, Jessie Reyez, Kim Harris and more.

Listen to fresh Canadian tracks from JP Saxe, Jessie Reyez, Kim Harris and more

Right: Kevin Comeau, in profile, a person with light skin and longish dark red-brown hair, a mustache, and beard, Left: Cody Bowles, looking forward at the camera, a person with light skin and long dark curly hair. Both faces are partially in shadow but also lit up and they are pictured from the neck up against a black background with luminous brown half circles on each side of their heads.
Rock musicians Kevin Comeau (right) and Cody Bowles (left) return with the first single from Crown Lands' forthcoming second album, Fearless, which drops March 31st. (Andy Ford)

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:

  • Crown Lands.
  • Kim Harris.
  • JP Saxe featuring Camilo.
  • Nikkaela.
  • Cube featuring Devin Morrison.
  • Sam Smith, Jessie Reyez, Calvin Harris.

Scroll down to find out why you need to listen. 

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

To hear more about these standout songs, tune in to CBC Music Mornings every Thursday with producer Ryan Chung and host Saroja Coelho, available via CBC Listen.

'Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II,' Crown Lands

Crown Lands' music features a wide range of inspirations and preoccupations, but their two-part epic "Fearless" feels like a focused attempt to work through the overwhelming influence of Rush. (Rush had a similar ongoing song series called "Fear.") Crown Lands has just released "Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II" as the lead single from their upcoming album. A modest 18 minutes long, it'll feel especially homey to anybody who particularly loves Rush's symphonic late-'70s albums A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres.

But "Starlifter" feels more modern than Rush in one important way: where Rush took inspiration from the winner-take-all politics of Ayn Rand, Crown Lands' music tells a story inspired by what songwriter Cody Bowles calls "Indigenous futurism." There's a science fiction narrative running throughout their catalogue, about an anti-capitalist space hero fighting colonization across the stars. Genre pastiche is a huge part of Crown Lands' approach, but this feels unique.. — Matthew Parsons

'Lavender,' Kim Harris

We got a small dose of Kim Harris last year, when Jenn Grant released their duet "Judy" in the fall, but new single "Lavender" is the first we've heard from the Halifax-based singer since 2019's Heirloom — and it is a welcome salve during these dark months. "Lay your head on me, I'm better," Harris softly sings on the first verse, her voice rich but understated. It's a balance she strikes throughout "Lavender," a song about queer love with a stunning video featuring Harris and her girlfriend, Olivia Fader. At first there are no big moves in the "Lavender" video: it's all softened edges and quiet moments, the heartbeat of a trusted love humming along with the song's steady thrum of drums (played by Michael Belyea). Then a fight emerges, set against the everyday backdrop of cars moving, life continuing. It takes place in the span between the chorus and the second verse, and as Harris assuredly continues singing, the fight is over, the rhythms of their relationship restored. "Lavender" is hopeful and gentle, a glimpse of the small things that amount to the big things. And now that Harris has announced an upcoming fall EP, we can wait patiently for more. — Holly Gordon

'Moderación,' JP Saxe feat. Camilo

When you make songs that reach a truly global audience ("If the World was Ending," "A Little bit Yours"), the logical next step is to start collaborating with the world's biggest music stars. That's the case with JP Saxe's bromantic, bilingual new duet with Colombian singing sensation Camilo, the multiple Grammy nominee and five-time Latin Grammy winner behind smash hits "Desconocidos" and "Vida de Rico." Wearing their fragile hearts on their sleeves, Saxe and Camilo plead for all-in commitment in their relationships. "Baby, please don't want mе in moderation," they sing in the chorus (Saxe in English; Camilo in Spanish), adding, "You can't be halfway when I'm all thе way in." Here are two singers challenging the cliché that men are afraid of intimacy, not only with women, but also (as their video and social media posts attest) with each other. — Robert Rowat

'Motions,' Nikkaela

There's a perseverant quality to Nikkaela's breakup track "Motions." The diaristic lyricism is instantly relatable for anyone who's had to mourn the end of a relationship: "I'll never get you back," she admits, showcasing her vulnerability. "This song means to live day by day, to push forward no matter how difficult the motions hit you," the Vancouver R&B singer explained on Instagram of the track's resilient undercurrent. Coming to terms with a split is often overwhelming, but on the song she sounds composed and collected while acknowledging that her current situation is for the best. Her vocals are smooth as they float over a melody that's melancholy but not wistful — she's confident in her decision, focused on the future prospects that await her on the other side of heartbreak — Natalie Harmsen

'Best Feature,' Cube feat. Devin Morrison

What were you doing at the age of 17? Probably finishing your last semester of high school, prepping for college, or maybe you were busy working that part-time job.

In the case of Jonathan Renaud — better known to the world as Cube (@cube.musik) — he's already a masterful multi-instrumentalist (piano, bass, drums and everything in between). But did you know that he can also sing? The London, Ontario-based singer shines brightly in his single "Best Feature" where all of his gifts come together. It's a dreamy reflection of love that also showcases Cube's gifts as an arranger, not to mention beautiful production. "Best Feature" is about indecision in relationships, and Cube's addition of L.A.-based singer-songwriter Devin Morrison, with his cadence and dreamy vocals, perfectly emphasizes that push and pull. Morrison adds to the track without ever getting in Cube's way. It's reminiscent of the good old days of R&B with a sprinkle of that new-age soul. Age should never limit you to the complexities of what you can do in life, and Cube's journey in music is a great example of that. — Ryan Chung

'I'm Not Here to Make Friends,' Sam Smith, Jessie Reyez, Calvin Harris

On Sam Smith's latest album, Gloria, the British pop star enlists a number of collaborators, but no one got more space to shine than Canadian R&B artist Jessie Reyez. Reyez, who is slated to open for Smith on their upcoming tour, appears on three tracks: "Perfect," "Gimme" and "I'm Not Here to Make Friends." The former two songs unfortunately illustrate weaker points of Smith's album, but that last one — which reunites Reyez with Scottish hitmaker Calvin Harris for the first time since their Dua Lipa smash, "One Kiss" — is one of the album's best. A lust-filled disco banger, "I'm Not Here to Make Friends" clearly declares its intentions: "'Cause I'm not here to make friends/ I need a lover." While Reyez mostly contributes harmonies here, hers and Smith's beautifully intertwined vocals prove that both artists could benefit from exploring more dance music in the future because the results are guaranteed to burn up the dancefloor. — Melody Lau


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