Kaytranada, Jean-Michel Blais, Grimes and more: songs you need to hear this week
Each week, CBC Music producers come together to highlight Canada's best new tracks.
While we prepare ourselves for the upcoming deluge of year-end lists, let's not forget the many amazing new tunes that are still being released. This week, we got hooked on new songs from Kaytranada featuring Shay Lia, Jean-Michel Blais, Grimes and Alessia Cara. Scroll down to find out why you need to hear them.
What new Canadian tunes are you currently obsessed with? Share them with us on Twitter @CBCMusic.
'Chances,' Kaytranada feat. Shay Lia
Kaytranada released an EP last week titled Nothin Like U/Chances, and it packs quite the punch considering it's made up of just two singles embedded alongside three instrumentals. While opening track "Nothin Like U" with Ty Dolla $ign has as addictive a groove as possible, it's the producer's track with fellow Montrealer Shay Lia that keeps us coming back. Where the duo's collaboration on Kaytranada's Polaris Prize-winning album, 99.9%, was a frenetic dance number, this one is a slow jam for the books, with Shay Lia repeating "Oooh oooh, I got the groo-oove." It might seem a bit on the nose, but you know what? She's right.
— Holly Gordon
'sans titre andante,' Jean-Michel Blais
After learning he was getting evicted from his beloved Mile End apartment, Jean-Michel Blais threw together one final house concert, which he recorded and has released as a five-song EP called Eviction Sessions. He calls it his "Nirvana-style unplugged album," captured in the same space and on the same piano featured on his debut album, II. In "sans titre andante," we hear soft undulating arpeggios and the occasional crack and moan from his upright. In its simplicity, this tune has a subtler emotional impact than the layered electronic sounds on his most recent full album, Dans ma main, but that only adds to its charm. (Watch a short video on the house concert here.)
— Michael Morreale
'We Appreciate Power,' Grimes feat. Hana
Given the wide array of collaborations Grimes has worked on this year — from K-pop groups to alt-metal acts — it was hard to predict the Canadian electro-pop artist's next move; an unpredictability that has had its pros and cons. That said, her first solo single in three years, "We Appreciate Power" (featuring frequent collaborator, Hana), delivers on something that is big and brash, but not entirely out of left field. While it's not the pop anthem we thought Grimes would give us, this track does draw from the heavier side of her past work and extends something like Art Angels' "Scream" directly into the heart of Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine. (Grimes has cited NIN frontman Trent Reznor as an influence in the past.) There is nothing subtle here, from the production to the lyrics which bow down to future artificial intillegence overlords, but "We Appreciate Power" does possess a mantra ("What will it take to make you capitulate?/ we appreciate power") that is oddly infectious, burrowing itself into one's mind like propaganda for a dystopian future. It's a powerful hook buried underneath the cacophony, perhaps the exact thing that Grimes has always been known for.
— Melody Lau
'Nintendo Game,' Alessia Cara
Who remembers dropping a shell in Mario Kart to sabotage your opponent? Fresh off of her new album, The Pains of Growing, Alessia Cara takes us back to the worlds of Rainbow Road, the Kingdom of Hyrule and more in her song "Nintendo Game." Much like her singles, "Growing Pains" and "Trust My Lonely," Cara depicts the struggles of growing up with a mature, retrospective lens. She explores themes of loneliness and manipulation on the track, using the familiar childhood games as a metaphor for love. With a clever motif and catchy chorus, she will have you singing along: "And so we treat love like it's a Nintendo game/ but nobody wins."
— Natasha Ramoutar