Destroyer's melancholic disco, and 4 other 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 the best new songs by Canadian artists.
This week, we're listening to new tracks from:
- Alexandra Stréliski.
- Pierre Kwenders.
- Missy D.
- New City.
Scroll down to find out why you should listen, too.
What new Canadian tunes are you currently obsessed with? Share them with us on Twitter @CBCMusic.
Tune into CBC Music Mornings every Thursday to hear CBC Music's Jess Huddleston and Saroja Coehlo reveal which of these tracks is the standout new Canadian song.
'Plus tôt' (string quartet version), Alexandra Stréliski
Alexandra Stréliski's "Plus tôt," which originally aired on the Amy Adams-led HBO drama Sharp Objects, is a light, buoyant piano piece, something the Montreal composer likened to a time of innocence before a life-changing event. "It's the beginning of the trip," she said in her 2018 press material. Her new version of "Plus tôt," recorded with a string quartet, is the flip side: the introspective, heavier time that comes when you have to reckon with what's been altered. Written in collaboration with Flore Laurentienne, the project helmed by fellow Quebecer Mathieu David Gagnon (and brother to Polaris shortlisted songwriter Klô Pelgag), the string quartet version of "Plus tôt" has a slowed tempo and clocks in at nearly a minute longer than the original, leaving space for more complicated feelings than its predecessor. It's a perfect pairing with the other single Stréliski released last week, an interpretation of French composer Erik Satie's Gnossienne No. 1, and for fans of Sharp Objects, this new version of "Plus tôt" is a mood-fitting track after those final moments. — Holly Gordon
'It Takes a Thief,' Destroyer
The singles leading up to the release of Destroyer's 13th album, Labyrinthitis, have all given listeners a glimpse into the artist's keen brand of melancholic disco, from the rhythm guitars on "Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread" to the sparkling opus of "June." But perhaps the most uptempo and bright example of disco on the album is "It Takes a Thief," a song that's drenched in handclaps, strings flourishes, and bursts of horns — all that's missing is perhaps even more cowbell. While frontman Dan Bejar's songwriting is fairly amorphous throughout the album, "It Takes a Thief" is so loose that Bejar starts scatting in its climax, clouding any signs of gloom (for example, punch lines like, "Oh, well, the band don't need a name/ But the band needs a hope in hell,") under an inescapably joyous soundscape. Laughing, dancing, crying — Destroyer's music invites you to do a bit of everything. — Melody Lau
'Kilimanjaro,' Pierre Kwenders
If Pierre Kwenders' upcoming album, José Louis and the Paradox of Love, is an exploration of love in all its facets, "Kilimanjaro" is the moment where he contemplates sexual desire. For many, climbing the dormant volcano in Tanzania represents a journey to the roof of Africa, but it can also be seen as a metaphor for self-discovery. Kwenders pushes that metaphor further, turning that climb into a pursuit of pleasure. The song opens with a saxophone lick that engulfs the senses with raw sensuality, mimicking the movement of slowly gyrating hips. Then, the Congolese rumba drums kick in and it becomes an exalted celebration. Kwenders took the Epher Heilland-directed video as an opportunity to show his reverence for African and Black American greats: "Sometimes I dream of being from the glorious time of Fela or dancing like Tshala Muana, or being the handsome Orfeu Negro, the one that every girl dreams of," he said in a press release. With his face superimposed over a laundry list of icons like Fela Kuti, James Brown, Prince, Grace Jones and Jimmy Hendrix, he gets to realize that dream, if fleetingly. — Kelsey Adams
'Case Départ,' Missy D
This is the sound of an artist who's feeling themself, and it's glorious. It's the syncopated strut of the brass funk backbeat, the warm nostalgia of golden age hip-hop nods and namedrops, and the lush velvet flow of Missy D singing and rapping. "Case Départ" is the title track off her new album, and in many ways it's a return to form. It's Missy D's first francophone album, even though she started rapping in French when she was just 11 years old. Case Départ will "touch on childhood, nostalgia, grief, homesickness, longing for others through the pandemic, and pushing through the overthinking moments and celebrating the little steps you make," Missy D promises in the press release. "That forward motion. This is just the beginning of something special." D'accord, Missy D, c'est très spécial. — Andrea Warner
'Livin' for the Weekend,' New City
Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic had its benefits, but it also blurred the line between our professional and personal lives. Toronto pop trio New City aims to restore that balance on "Livin' for the Weekend," a highlight from Live my Life, the group's debut full-length, released on March 25. Setting the song in sunny E-flat major, they establish a warm, irresistible Friday-at-5 p.m. feeling. "It's Friday night and I got no plans/ Got a feeling we'll go out, grab a drink, and I'll pretend I can dance," goes the opening verse, over straightforward synth-and-drum accompaniment. Production expands with jangly guitars and vocal layers for the chorus — "Ooh, we've been living for the weekend/ Getting high as hell, hanging with my best friends" — to capture the euphoria of knowing the next 48 hours are all yours. New City plays four Ontario cities plus Montreal on tour with Neon Dreams and Casey Lowry at the end of May. — Robert Rowat