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Dan Mangan, Murray Lightburn, Ellis and more: songs you need to hear this week

Five hot new Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now.
Hamilton-based artist Ellis. (Ariel Bader-Shamai)

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 Dan Mangan, Murray Lightburn, Dominique Fils-Aimé, Emilie Kahn and Ellis. 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.


'Constructive Interference,' Dominique Fils-Aimé

"Feel the power," repeats Montreal soul singer Dominique Fils-Aimé on this arresting track from her new album Stay Tuned, the second in a trilogy that began with 2018's Nameless. That power comes primarily from Fils-Aimé's expressive vocals, multi-tracked and unaccompanied apart from some percussion and a bit of bass. Whereas Nameless explored the blues, Stay Tuned is in a jazzier mode — "Jazz is revolution, the unification of communities," Fils-Aimé told Voir — although "Constructive Interference" also has one foot firmly planted in roots music, a fusion that suits her ultra-direct style of communication.

— Robert Rowat


'Hear Me Out,' Murray Lightburn

Sometimes the difference between feeling deceptively alone or not is the simple act of reaching out. And on the title track for Murray A. Lightburn's new solo album, Hear Me Out, it sounds like he's working on taking that step. "We're on the same side/ can't you see?/ I've got your back/ and you've got me," the Dears frontman sings to the gentle sound of strings, guitar and drums. Voicing concerns of being misheard or misinterpreted, he reaches out for a soft place to land — for both him and the person on the other side of the relationship.

Hear me Out is about "grown-up stuff," Lightburn said via press release. "Having kids, having to sustain careers and sustain relationships, finding that thing that keeps you together in the midst of other circumstances that could tear you apart. The reason why the album's called Hear me Out, is it's not only about expressing yourself, but listening too. Being able to communicate in a relationship is utterly crucial, if you're gonna survive anything." Lightburn recently talked to q's Tom Power about the album and you can listen to it via cbc.ca/q.

— Holly Gordon


'Something Blue,' Ellis

Hamilton artist Linnea Siggelkow, a.k.a. Ellis, has gotten a lot of attention over the past year with her 2018 debut EP, The Fuzz. Her shoegaze pop sound is dreamy and nostalgic, but literally so on her latest track, "Something Blue." A song that ruminates on the past, particularly a moment you wish you could change ("I'd give anything/ To go back to that day"), Siggelkow said in a press release that "hindsight can be a real bitch." But "Something Blue" often plays off more wistful than resentful, distilling those feelings of regret into a long beautiful sigh carried out by guitar strums and Siggelkow's echoing vocals. Still, it all leads to this gut punch of a line: "Did I lose my innocence or was it taken away?"

— Melody Lau


'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' (Neutral Milk Hotel cover), Dan Mangan

Following his rendition of R.E.M.'s "Losing my Religion," Dan Mangan returns with another cover, this time of the title track from Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Many of the songs on that album, released in 1998, were inspired by Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl and dealt with themes of hope and fear — also preoccupations of Mangan on his latest album More or Less, so it's no wonder he was drawn to this song. Unlike Neutral Milk Hotel's original, Mangan's rendition is stripped-down, featuring his own sparse vocals, an acoustic guitar, and whistling. More than 20 years later, "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" remains a topical and beautiful song.

— Natasha Ramoutar


'Swimmer,' Emilie Kahn

Emilie Kahn's "Swimmer" is the gentle caress of waves against the shore, the timeless breeze of a midsummer day, a daydream somewhere in that liminal space between waking and sleeping. The nostalgic song comes off her latest album, Outro, after a change in name from Emilie & Ogden to Emilie Kahn. Although it's as soothing as a lullaby with her lush vocals and ethereal harp, the track is also tinged with pain: "I wrote you a tribute/ I wrote you one hundred songs/ just like this one/ that you'll never hear." "Swimmer" captures that beautiful and tragic act of trying to grasp a fleeting moment as it floats out of reach.

— NR

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