Music

Islands' spicy comeback, and 5 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

'We Like to (do it With the Lights On)' is Islands’ 1st single in 5 years. (Supplied by Islands)

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:

  • Justin Bieber.
  • Hildegard.
  • Field Guide.
  • Haviah Mighty featuring Tobi.
  • Islands.
  • Jean-Michel Blais.

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.


'Hold On,' Justin Bieber

Back in September, Justin Bieber released "Holy," whose video portrayed him as a blue-collar worker struggling financially upon losing his job. The video for his latest single, "Hold On," continues this theme, depicting his character's desperation in the face of mounting medical expenses resulting from his partner's cancer diagnosis. While it's easy to scoff at the multi-millionaire pop star's fictional identification with the very real struggles of the working class, being at the end of one's rope (for whatever reason) is clearly a preoccupation — one that's been inspiring Bieber to craft some of his most vulnerable, affecting songs. "I know how it feels to be someone who loses their way," he admits in the chorus, his voice more than matching the intensity of the driving pop-rock beat. Expect more odes to overcoming obstacles on Bieber's new album, Justice, due out March 19. — Robert Rowat


'Jour 2,' Hildegard

Meet Hildegard, a new project by Montreal musicians Helena Deland and Ouri. The two artists first got together three years ago to make music, but never had the intention of releasing that work. Thankfully, they changed their minds. "Jour 2," one of the tracks that came out of that session years ago is a meditative chant that, as the duo described in a statement, is a "psychedelic mantra that labours to reconcile the dissociated self by contrasting eeriness and softness." Deland and Ouri's voices, both soft yet powerful in their own rights, tangle together beautifully, weaving a sound and texture that adds a dimension to the already captivating and dreamy foundation. We can't wait to hear what other mesmerizing songs Hildegard has in store for listeners on its full-length album due out later this year. — Melody Lau


'The Way it Would Be,' Field Guide

I first stumbled across Brandon, Man., singer-songwriter Dylan MacDonald, a.k.a. Field Guide, last summer, and the combination of viscerally relatable lyrics and twangy guitar balladry made isolation golden hours all the more special. A common thrill in my line of work is learning that an artist I've grown to love is Canadian, which didn't click until last week's new single, "The Way It Would Be," where, once again, MacDonald hushedly spills his stream-of-consciousness heart out. There's an air of humility in MacDonald's ruminating, not unlike Donovan Woods or fellow prairie native Andy Shauf, and it feels like he's a fraction of all the men you've loved or misunderstood — a quality that keeps you coming back to hear whatever it is he'll say next. — Jess Huddleston


'Good on my Own Tonight,' Haviah Mighty feat. Tobi

The first time we heard Haviah Mighty collaborate with Tobi, she guested on the fellow Toronto rapper's "24 (Toronto remix)," opening with a fiery verse that set the tone for a powerful anthem. One year later, Tobi's joining Haviah on her new single, "Good on my own Tonight," a downtempo song about the freedom of being alone. "'Good on my own Tonight' focuses on the moment of clarity when you realize that you're better off on your own. Whether it's a relationship that hasn't been working, or a friendship that has made you feel weird for a while, this song speaks to those internal thoughts around finally putting yourself first," Haviah said via statement. Haviah's verses bookend Tobi's over a moody, bass-heavy trap beat produced by Haviah and Mighty Prynce, with Haviah and Tobi adding a touch of vocals to remind you of the titular lyric. "I move with a podium spirit," raps the Polaris Prize winner, giving voice to the singular dedication she has for her work. Perfect 2021 energy. — Holly Gordon


'(We Like to) do it With the Lights On,' Islands 

When Nick Thorburn debuted his band Islands in 2005, they lived by a simple, but dedicated mantra: "Islands are forever." In 2016, Thorburn betrayed that statement by quitting. But as with all things Thorburn has done over the course of his career — from writing scores to drawing comics — the B.C.-born artist never really closes the door permanently on anything. And so here we are, in 2021, with "We Like to (do it With the Lights On)," Islands' first single in five years. (An album, titled Islomania, is set to arrive on June 11.) 

In a statement, Thorburn (who reunites here with Islands members Adam Halferty and Geordie Gordon) said that this song started with a groove first, making it one of the band's most danceable tracks yet, which is also reflected in its choreographed music video. "We Like to (do it With the Lights On)" still draws from Islands' signature guitar work, warm synths and Thorburn's charming nonchalance, but everything feels amped up and brighter thanks to the production of Chris Coady (Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs). For a band that once had no future, Islands' year ahead is looking very optimistic. — ML


'Signal'(Cri, Daniel Bélanger cover), Jean-Michel Blais

Quebec electronic breakout star Cri recruited legendary Montreal singer-songwriter Daniel Bélanger to sing vocals on his latest single, "Signal," which, in all its melodic layering, achieves the same emotional effect as the expansive ballads on Moby's seminal album, Play. Now, Cri has removed both himself, Bélanger and any production from the equation, allowing indie-classical pianist Jean-Michel Blais to strip the song down to sparse keys. Poignant in its stirring simplicity, Blais' piano rendition is possibly more powerful than the beautiful original, and likely to be paired imminently with an onscreen moment aimed at people's heartstrings. — JH

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