Curtis Waters, Rhye and more: songs you need to hear this week

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

6 fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now

Curtis Waters, the artist behind the TikTok hit 'Stunnin',' is back with a new single called 'Freckles.' (Jillian Clark)

Each week, CBC Music producers come together to highlight Canada's best new tracks.

This week, we got hooked on new songs from:

  • Curtis Waters.
  • Art of Time featuring Gregory Hoskins.
  • Bahamas.
  • A.A. Wallace (remixing Lisa LeBlanc).
  • Rhye.
  • Pierre Kwenders and Clément Bazin.

Scroll down to find out why you need to hear them, too.

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

'Freckles,' Curtis Waters

Curtis Waters is the Nepalese-born Canadian artist behind the viral TikTok hit "Stunnin'," which hit No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has more than 90 million streams on Spotify alone. On his latest, "Freckles," he leaves the braggadocio of the previous track behind in order to present a more sympathetic, sensitive side: "You lean on me when you're feeling alone and need some company," he sings over a trap-influenced beat.

Waters was inspired to write the song after he reconnected with an old college friend. "She was telling me about all the crazy and tragic stuff that had happened since I last saw her and how she had fallen back into old habits and was struggling again," he told Rolling Stone. "But even through all of that she was still happy and hopeful about the future." Shortly after the call, he wrote "Freckles," which inevitably is about putting on a brave face despite it all. "Your scars, they remind me, all that you've been through," he sings. "But you're still here smiling." — Jesse Kinos-Goodin

'Calling all Angels' (Jane Siberry cover), Art of Time feat. Gregory Hoskins

Remember when Joni Mitchell famously revisited her song "Both Sides, Now" in 2000 in a striking symphonic arrangement? Well, the veteran musicians converging on Art of Time's upcoming album, Ain't got Long (due out Nov. 13), are doing something similarly poignant, as this advance track attests. They perform an arrangement by Jonathan Goldsmith of Jane Siberry's 1991 ode to resilience, "Calling all Angels." It employs a chamber ensemble of strings, trumpet, clarinet and guitar over a gently syncopated piano bed to create a shimmering atmosphere that surges and retracts in response to the lyrics while folk-rock vocalist Gregory Hoskins (the Stickpeople) imbues the song with a world-weariness that goes straight to your heart. The video, directed by Bruce McDonald, is daring in its simplicity. — Robert Rowat

'Trick to Happy,' Bahamas

"Is there some trick to being happy?" 

This is the question that Bahamas frontman Afie Jurvenen ponders on the opening track to his upcoming album aptly titled Sad Hunk. Admitting that "most days I'm feeling like half me," Jurvanen's latest single can feel like a bummer — it's accompanying guitar riff approximating a sad trombone doesn't help matters — but Jurvanen's delivery always saves the day. His voice, light, buoyant and beautifully backed up by vocalist Felicity Williams, is reassuring and its harmonies a constant reminder that you're not alone. It may feel like an unanswerable question, but sometimes the trick to being happy can be a good song. In this case, "Trick to Happy" is just the track we need. — Melody Lau 

'It's not a Game, it's a Lifestyle' (Lisa LeBlanc remix), A.A. Wallace

Earlier this summer, raucous Acadian singer Lisa LeBlanc released a disco-dance EP as Belinda, her bingo queen alter ego. It's not Just a Game, it's a Lifestyle is a five-song burst of energy, gifting us the oft-repeated titular motto and fresh singles both sung and spoken in a mix of English, French and Chiac — all from a character who prides herself on heading Shediac's Christmas in July committee. Three months later, fellow Acadian A.A. Wallace (of Sleepless Nights) has steered the title track into a remix that adds an addictive electric opening as LeBlanc's declaration that "it's not just a game, it's a lifestyle" swirls overtop. The crunchy Daft Punk flourishes really fill it all out, putting the final stamp on the "after-hours full card blackout" Wallace was hoping for, a perfect complement to LeBlanc's original. (Wallace will also be releasing his own single later this month, so keep an eye out for that.) — Holly Gordon

'Helpless,' Rhye

This new single from Rhye (Mike Milosh), his second of 2020, seduces you before he even sings a note. With electric organ, voice samples and a heavy bass line, its 42-second intro establishes an attractive harmonic sequence that underpins the ensuing verses and choruses. Rhye's unmistakable falsetto, when it does arrive, is a cool caress: "Sail out to my heart/ Come with me please/ Give me heart, give me love, give me range." Don't fear the helplessness that comes with falling in love, he gently asserts. Give into it. — RR

'Sentiment,' Pierre Kwenders and Clément Bazin 

On Oct. 23, Montreal artist Pierre Kwenders is returning with a new project with French producer Clément Bazin titled Classe Tendresse. The EP's lead single, "Sentiment," sparkles wistfully over a steady beat as Kwenders pays tribute to African music icons Manu Dibango, who died from COVID-19 earlier this year, and DJ Arafat, known as the "King of the coupé-décalé." "It's my love anthem with a prompt to 'coupé-décalé,'" Kwenders said in a press release, "carried by a simple message: One Love, Moko feeling!" Instead of leaning into sombreness, "Sentiment" is uplifting and celebratory; a reminder that dance can be healing. — ML


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