Hayley Gene Penner's latest slice of folk magic, and 4 more songs you need to hear this week

Fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now

Fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now

Folk musician Hayley Gene Penner has released 'Still,' her 1st single of 2021. (Wikimedia Commons)

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:

  • 88rising and Bibi featuring 347aidan.
  • Hayley Gene Penner.
  • Skiifall.
  • Leith.
  • Alice Glass.

Scroll down to find out why you should listen, too.

Hit play on our 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 Coelho reveal which of these tracks is the standout new Canadian song.

Note: we're hitting pause on our weekly Songs You Need to Hear column over the Christmas/New Year's period. It will be back on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022.

'The Weekend' (remix), 88rising and Bibi feat. 347aidan

On the remix of their song "The Weekend," Asian American collective 88rising and South Korean singer Bibi add Canadian TikTok star 347aidan to the mix. The track, an R&B-disco banger undoubtedly inspired by Doja Cat's chart-topping hits, finds its two singers confronting romantic prospects who only call on the weekend. "Why, why, why, why, why/ Aren't you into me?" Bibi and 347aidan sing in harmony. (347aidan later expands on his verse, pleading, "Would you answer all your missed calls/ The weekend just don't feel long.") While the pain of unrequited love is palpable in their delivery, one can only hope that the infectious dance beat can sooth some of that heartache. — Melody Lau

'Still,' Hayley Gene Penner

I never got my fill
And I'm sure I never will
Is that bad?
Or does everybody love somebody still?

Hayley Gene Penner asks a question everyone wants answered on her latest slice of folk magic, finding universality in the notion of unmended hearts forging ahead into healing — possibly before they're ready. An accomplished songwriter and new author from esteemed musical lineage (yes, she's Fred Penner's daughter), Penner clearly has the gift of effortless wordplay, the way her musings waltz around sliding twang and whispery guitar. Her soft harmonies explore something that most people experience, but few people talk about, making for the best kind of folk artistry — the kind that lasts long and will inevitably prove fruitful. — Jess Huddleston

'Break of Dawn,' Skiifall

Known for rapid-fire bars with a Caribbean flow, Montreal-based rapper Skiifall has mellowed things out on this new single featuring experimental jazz trio BadBadNotGood. Skiifall is currently supporting the band on tour and has been playing this tune to rapturous applause during his opening sets. The old-school reggae drums and blissful rhythms are in stark contrast to the lyrical content: Skiifall raps in a falsetto about crooked cops, gun violence and having to hustle to survive — the "break of dawn" greeting another day full of hardship and strife. The St. Vincent-born artist expertly weaves Caribbean music styles, patois and manners of speech into an exciting new form of diasporic hip hop. — Kelsey Adams

'Big Trees,' Leith

"It's a song about home," confided Canada's Leith (real name Jessie Leith Munro), an alt-pop musician based in London, England, during a recent Q&A with Notion. Leith has been away from Canada for eight years and evidently feels at her creative best when she's both longing for home and resisting its comforts. "I want to be back there, by the fire," she sings in the opening verse of "Big Trees," with acoustic guitars conjuring halcyon summer days at the lake. In the pre-chorus, she hints at the source of her nostalgia — "It gets harder not to keep an eye/ on the place I left my heart behind" — while the bass line keeps pulling you down to a poignant flattened sixth. It's not exactly a sad song, but boy, it sure finds the fastest route to your fondest memories and bottled-up emotions. — Robert Rowat

'Fair Game,' Alice Glass 

When the music video for Alice Glass's latest single dropped last week, the musician took to Twitter to declare that "Fair Game is trauma core." While not explicitly named on "Fair Game," it's assumed that the catalyst for this track was Glass's former Crystal Castles bandmate, whom she has accused of mental and physical abuse. (Another statement Glass posted on Twitter brings this into sharp focus: "Crystal Castles was. Alice Glass is.") On the heavy industrial track, Glass takes on the perspective of her abuser, repeating lines that were once used against her including the song's main refrain: "Where would you be without me?" "I hope I can help anyone listening to my music recognize the red flags of toxic relationships before they evolve into something worse," Glass said in a statement, "something that becomes embedded so deep it can transform you." "Fair Game" is an ode to Glass's perseverance, and hopefully a beacon of light for anyone who may be stuck in a dark place of their own. — ML