Magi Merlin's searing rap turn, and 4 more songs you need to hear this week
Fresh Canadian tracks to listen to right now
Each week, CBC Music producers come together to highlight Canada's best new tracks.
This week, we got hooked on new songs from:
- Magi Merlin.
- Anomalie feat. Masego.
- Jane Inc.
- Wolf Castle.
- Zach Zoya feat. Soran.
Scroll down to find out why you need to hear them, too.
What new Canadian tunes are you currently obsessed with right now? 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.
'Free Grillz,' Magi Merlin
Montreal singer Magi Merlin is unabashed and unashamed on her new single, "Free Grillz." It's the first time she's written a rap song — and it's working for her. The cold delivery of searing lines like, "Soft bitches always got me pulling rank, yo," and, "Licking boots still won't get you fame," are contrasted by a sultry hook that shows off the range of her voice. Set against a sparse mix of techno snares, plundering bass and fiery drums, Merlin's message hits hard: she isn't one to be messed with. There's an effortless coolness to the video, as she zooms down clandestine streets on the back of a motorcycle or stands posted up in the middle of the road spitting her damning bars. In the second half of the video she's on a boring date that inspires her to find a way of entertaining herself — naturally, she starts a riotous mosh pit. — Kelsey Adams
'Memory Leaves,' Anomalie feat. Masego
Montreal's Anomalie (jazz musician and producer Nicolas Dupuis) has been building up to the April 29 release of his new full-length, Galerie, with a series of fascinating singles, including a jaw-dropping cover of Herbie Hancock's "Come Running to Me." For the latest of these, Anomalie collaborates with R&B heavyweight Masego, a like-minded musician who raps two verses. "I found an amazing creative partner," Anomalie said in a press release. "I'm still very much inspired by that session and the way the track came together." The song is a gorgeous meditation on the nomadic lifestyle of touring musicians, with endlessly inventive drumming, delightful comping on piano and added electronics. Fans of Robert Glasper Experiment and Ezra Collective: don't sleep on Anomalie. — Robert Rowat
'Contortionists,' Jane Inc.
"At first I thought I was making a record about time," Jane Inc.'s Carlyn Bezic recently said in a press release, "but I was actually making a record about how, in moments of intense anxiety, you're living in the past, present and future at the same time. A million moments existing at once, real and imagined." Bezic is speaking broadly about her upcoming sophomore album as Jane Inc., titled Faster Than I Can Take (out April 22 via Telephone Explosion), but the quote applies quite well to the album's lead single, "Contortionists." "The laws of time have changed/ months pass in minutes, hours feel like days," Bezic sings over a metronomic synth beat. The song, too, morphs over time, accelerating into a double-time rhythm in its second half as Dorothea Paas's backing vocals remind listeners to breathe in and out. "Contortionists" unfurls into a disco-inflected dance-pop meditation, never providing a solution as much as she focuses on grounding oneself through breathing and connection, as Bezic repeats the song's main refrain: "Baby, it's me and you/ tell me you feel it, too." If meditation apps aren't your thing, Jane Inc.'s music provides a hypnotic alternative. — Melody Lau
'Get Lit,' Wolf Castle
Last week was a big one for Wolf Castle: the Pabineau First Nation MC nabbed two nominations from the East Coast Music Awards (for Indigenous artist of the year and rap/hip-hop recording of the year), and dropped a swanky new video for the opening track of his 2021 album, Da Vinci's Inquest. "Get Lit," which we included in our list of most underrated songs of 2021, is a cinematic song that gets a matching treatment from director Jeff Miller, as Wolf Castle raps about flipping the script on who takes the throne — all while performing from a modest castle. (He's also wearing a gorgeous ensemble by Halifax designer Maggie Jayne, similar to the one worn by Klô Pelgag in her 2021 Juno performance.) With this video for "Get Lit," Wolf Castle more than figuratively claims his place as one of this country's most promising young rappers. — Holly Gordon
'Strangers in the House,' Zach Zoya feat. Soran
"Soran and I have been making music every other day since the start of the pandemic, and his house has become a sort of music sanctuary," says Montreal rapper/singer-songwriter Zach Zoya via press release, describing the symbiosis that yielded their new single, "Strangers in the House." The mid-tempo pop/R&B song works not only because of their contrasting vocal styles — Zoya's delivery has bite as he intones the chorus, while Soran employs a velour tone for his sung rap — but also the restrained production, consisting primarily of bass and drum, which keeps the focus on the song's intimate, confessional tone. "We wanted the listener to feel like they were on the couch, living the moment with us," explains Zoya. Starting March 16, Zoya joins Charlotte Cardin for eight Quebec dates on her North American tour. Soran begins a cross-Canada tour on May 26. — RR