Crown Lands' epic Rush tribute and 5 more songs you need to hear this week
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.
This week, we're listening to new tracks from:
- Philip Shibata.
- Crown Lands.
- Luna Li.
- Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.
- Blue Wednesday.
- Ocie Elliott.
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.
Hit play on our brand new Songs You Need to Hear stream, filled with songs that CBC Music's producers have chosen for their playlists, and tune into CBC Music Mornings every Thursday to hear CBC Music's Jess Huddleston and Saroja Coehlo reveal the standout new Canadian song.
'Blindspot,' Philip Shibata
Here's what we've been able to find out about elusive Japanese–Canadian musician Philip Shibata: he currently lives in Manchester, U.K.; he played guitar in the now defunct worship band Rivers and Robots; he can do the splits; he likes pineapple on his pizza; and (most importantly) he has just released his debut album, Sun/Moons, an 11-song neo-soul treasure trove. Track 1 is "Blindspot," a gentle guitar song buoyed by hand claps, subtle strings and — starting at the 1:50 mark — a sternum-caressing bass line. The song is a rumination on a relationship that has ended, probably for the best. "How could I never see that we were never meant to be?" he asks (rhetorically?) in the second verse before his falsetto soars. Clearly Shibata has been a blind spot for us, but no longer. — Robert Rowat
'Context: Fearless Pt. 1,' Crown Lands
Warning: brace yourself for a torrent of hyperbole. Clocking in at a glorious seven minutes and 45 seconds, Crown Lands' epic, sci-fi-laced "Context: Fearless Pt. 1" is a mic-dropping display of virtuosity, and serves as a reminder of why rock, when done right, still kicks ass. Fresh off two Juno nominations, the power duo expertly holds a clinic on prog-rock on this track, including glorious breakdowns and change-ups that can't help remind us of one of the masters of this genre: Rush. Turns out that is no accident, as this track was produced by not one, not two, but three Rush producers: Terry Brown, Nick Raskulinecz and David Bottrill. If you thought music like this had disappeared, Crown Lands' Kevin Comeau and Cody Bowles deliver a lovely punch to the face that says, "No, no it has not." — Ben Aylsworth
'Cherry Pit,' Luna Li
Those who have come to know Toronto musician Luna Li's soft, dreamy music may be taken by surprise when they hit play on her latest single, "Cherry Pit." A sonic blast of psychedelic guitars and crashing symbols bookend the track, unleashing a more rock-centric side that has been hinted at in other songs but has never been as fully formed as this. The rest of the track is a more subdued melody that reflects songwriter Hannah Bussiere Kim's "moon fairy" persona, but finds a perfect balance between her classical background (her signature harp is still embedded into the track, though not the centre of attention) with a more modern sound reminiscent of artists like Japanese Breakfast or St. Vincent. Inspired by a series of haikus written by her family members after finding out a childhood cottage they visited annually was getting sold, "Cherry Pit" may sound fantastical, but it's grounded in the realness of time and making the most out of life. As Kim reminds her listeners: "Forever isn't real, my love." — Melody Lau
'Failure of Melting,' Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
Michi Saagig Nishnaabeg writer, scholar and musician Leanne Betasamosake Simpson released her third album last week, and it's both a stunning and devastating reckoning of our relationship with the natural world. The songs on Theory and Ice began as poetry, and were transformed into "song-forms through a collaborative generative process with bandmates Ansley Simpson and Nick Ferrio, producer Jonas Bonetta (Evening Hymns), and producer Jim Bryson," who are all credited with having written the music. Theory of Ice is a microcosm, built on Simpson's intimate vocals that at times act as invitation, and at others indictment. On "Failure in Melting," Simpson takes a deep breath before singing, "The frozen sighed and gave up/ the lake wrote their letter of resignation" over the gentle plucking of guitar and bass, humanizing the elements that have been so violated over past centuries. Simpson is natural and scientific in her poetry, giving her lines an exacting edge. "July 15/ 30 cubic meters/ just like the Gwich'in always said," she sings, hitting you with precise detail long enough to wonder if she's talking about a past oil spill or an impending one, before anthropomorphizing the land in a way that shatters: "The ice breathes and gives in/ the lake runs out of option."
Theory of Ice is a powerful gift made in community, including a duet with John K Samson ("Surface Tension") and a new arrangement of Willie Dunn's damning "I Pity The Country." It's impossible to listen to one song without needing to hear the rest, but it's good to start somewhere. — Holly Gordon
'I See You in Slow Motion,' Blue Wednesday
If chillhop is your thing, you need to know about Blue Wednesday (real name Gustav Joseph), a prolific artist from Canada's West Coast whose lo-fi songs are finding their way onto popular playlists and justifiably racking up millions of streams. From his latest EP, After Hours, which appeared on March 11, "I See You in Slow Motion" uses a keyboard sound that falls somewhere between steel pans and a church basement piano to create a wistful effect, enhanced by a recurring flattened sixth chord that tugs your heartstrings. Bass, guitar and percussion keep meditative time, suggesting inexorable natural rhythms such as an icicle dripping under spring sunshine. — RR
'Now You Don't,' Ocie Elliott
B.C. duo Ocie Elliott continues to effortlessly revive the indie-folk wave that dominated the early 2010s, adding a freshness and authenticity that can only be achieved when two artists have stumbled onto their exact right path. The real-life couple's hushed harmonies have already been included in memorable episodes of Grey's Anatomy and CBC Music's The Intro — where the two performed their songs in the backseat of a car — thanks to the time-stopping appeal of Jon Middleton and Sierra Lundy's undecorated, poignant folk. This piano-and-guitar ballad off their latest EP is another tale of escapism and liberation, not necessarily through running away, but through coming home. And just in time for these longer days — there isn't a new song more fitting for the open road at magic hour. — Jess Huddleston