Milk & Bone's electro-pop smash, and 7 more songs you need to hear this week
Fresh Canadian tracks to listen to right now
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:
- Pastel Blank.
- Milk & Bone.
- Avril Lavigne.
- Ansley Simpson.
- Flore Laurentienne.
- Johnny Orlando.
Scroll down to find out why you need to listen.
What new Canadian tunes are you currently obsessed with? Share them with us on Twitter @CBCMusic.
To hear more about these standout songs, tune in to CBC Music Mornings every Thursday and Toronto's Here and Now every Wednesday afternoon, both available via CBC Listen.
'Attention! Shopkeeper,' Pastel Blank
Pastel Blank's new song is a kind of psychedelic funk that noodles, grooves and struts. In other words, it's perfect for that transition from spring to summer. The stop-and-start staccato beat is wildly unpredictable, and the slouching, sticky bass and synths are an excellent complement to vocal performances that pout, flourish and free-fly into falsetto on the regular. Until you listen to the lyrics, it might be hard to understand the spiky tension in the song's otherwise upbeat flow. "Attention! Shopkeeper" was inspired by lead singer-songwriter Angus Watt's real-life experience working in a bookstore and witnessing a woman being caught shoplifting. The lyrics are a bit convoluted, but by dedicating a song this fun and complex to the nuances of trying to survive capitalism, Watts proves to be a promising creative force. And Pastel Blank is just getting started: the Victoria band's debut album, Pastel Blanc, is out Friday, June 10. — Andrea Warner
Halifax's Beauts are experts at crafting summer vibes when the mood strikes (their 2019 single "The City Loves Me" is still on rotation), and they've returned with something that will keep you perfect company on a late-night walk or let you sink into a starry evening, where memories are your best guests. Revving up slowly, the five-piece — made up of Jeff Lawton, Darryl Smith, Palmer Jamieson, Joel Waddell and Erik Van Lunen — layers guitar, synths and drums with backing vocals (by Mel Stone) and keys (by Siobhan Martin) for a track that holds you tight in a way that's gentle and rolling, not suffocating. It's a hazy ode to lead singer Lawton's partner, expressing his "awe for her," as he said in the press release, after pandemic years spent together and feeling thankful. Martin's keys and Stone's soft backup vocals against Beauts' skill at swirling tension strike the perfect balance, giving us a summer song that is both humid and bright. — Holly Gordon
'Borders,' Milk & Bone
In April, Milk & Bone released "Bigger Love," the duo's first new music since 2019. Now, Laurence Lafond-Beaulne and Camille Poliquin are back again with an electro-pop smash that draws you in with its danceable, upbeat drums and dreamy synths, and keeps you locked in with lyrics dripping with yearning, nostalgia and obsession. "Borders" was written at the height of lockdown, when international borders were closed, and it centres on a long-distance relationship that's been thwarted by the inability to connect. Poliquin and Lafond-Beaulne's lofty voices intertwine as the lyrics describe a fantasy about the eventual reconnection between lovers: "I'm coming over across that border/ got nothing to declare/ except for this sharp despair/ coming to you completely bare." Beyond literal borders being closed, the track makes me think of the metaphorical borders that can build up between people, when communication becomes stunted and words go unsaid. "Borders" is a release, giving you reprieve from all that messy anxiety, as you dance alone in front of your bedroom mirror. — Kelsey Adams
'Breakaway,' Avril Lavigne
June 4 marked the 20th anniversary of Avril Lavigne's debut album, Let Go, and the pop-punk icon celebrated by releasing an expanded version of the record with a handful of unreleased tracks. One of those songs was "Breakaway," an acoustic anthem that was originally written for Let Go but was ultimately cut. If the track sounds familiar, though, that's because it went on to become one of pop artist Kelly Clarkson's biggest hits, landing her a No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2004. Lavigne's song is identical to Clarkson's version, but its release presents the perfect moment not only to appreciate the song and Let Go in general, but also reflect on Lavigne's successful career as a songwriter for other artists (she's also written hits for Demi Lovato and Leona Lewis). — Melody Lau
'Moon,' Ansley Simpson
"Moon" kicks off with a soft crash of drums and guitar, a fitting announcement for Ansley Simpson's first single from their forthcoming second album, She Fell From the Sky. The Toronto-based Anishinaabe singer-songwriter, whose work you might have heard on sister Leanne Betasamosake Simpson's Polaris-shortlisted Theory of Ice last year, has written an album inspired by Gizhiigokwe, or Sky Woman, a spiritual being who fell from the sky to birth this world. In Simpson's 11-track epic, Gizhiigokwe is "asked the impossible task of falling once more from the sky to fix the mess we are in," according to Simpson's Instagram post, and on "Moon" she seeks guidance on the answer.
"Why should I fall/ when it always ends with me broken from it all?" sings Simpson on the chorus, their voice ringing with clarity as to the price of the request. Simpson lists many collaborators on the project, and on "Moon" specifically you hear violin/viola from Mika Posen and drums from Joshua Van Tassel, as well as a moving choir including Cris Derksen, Heather Kirby, Komii Smith Simpson, Tiffany Kuliktana Ayalik (of PIQSIQ) and Simone Schmidt (Fiver). It's a powerful coming together of voices, and laid atop the strummed guitar and soaring violin and viola, Simpson sounds unstoppable. — HG
'Navigation IV,' Flore Laurentienne
After enjoying success with his Juno-nominated debut album, Vol. I, whose dramatic lead single opened Chanel's fall-winter 2022-2023 show in Paris, Flore Laurentienne (a.k.a. Québec composer Mathieu David Gagnon) has announced a followup album, Vol. II, due out Oct. 21. A press release describes a "palette of rich orchestral sound, where changing forces of water inspire metaphorical markers that navigate passages of life and loss," and the album's first advance single, the wistful "Navigation IV," bears witness to that concept. Leaning more ambient than Flore Laurentienne's earlier material while staying true to his signature blend of acoustic classical instruments with electronic production, the track is a lush Gymnopédie, adapted to 5/8 meter. It comes with a serene video, whose minimalism is shaken at 2:35 when a sea bird unexpectedly takes flight. — Robert Rowat
'Happy Tarot,' Jasmyn
For her debut solo album, ex-Weaves frontwoman Jasmyn took a step back and asked herself, "Am I happy?" The answer to that question led to some changes: Jasmyn let go of her previous band, moved to Hamilton (she was born and raised in Toronto), and began penning new songs for herself during the pandemic. The result is an eclectic mix of tracks that make up In the Wild, sometimes leaning into the indie-rock sounds of her past and other times forging a path forward with heavy synths. "Happy Tarot" is the latter, a bombastic synth-pop cut that feels like it was ripped out of La Roux or Róisín Murphy's late-2000s discographies. "We said futures are for guessing what is next," Jasmyn sings. She admits that looking ahead can feel like a guessing game, but instead of letting that anxiety seep in, she instead basks in the joy of the present: "I said dancin' in this room/ with you is best." It's the happiness in what's happening in the moment that is giving Jasmyn the confidence to move ahead. With a mindset like that, you can't lose. — ML
'Blur,' Johnny Orlando
At 19 years old, yet 10 whole years into his career, Canadian pop star Johnny Orlando is approaching a turning point. We've seen all the teen hit-makers reach this same threshold (Bieber, Mendes, to name a few), where the safe bops melt away in favour of coming-of-age revelations around love, sex, mental health and the trappings of night life. On his sparkling new summer earworm, "Blur," Orlando wades gently into his new era, acknowledging his anxious inclination to stay home before a blurry night out that results in a wine-fuelled one-night stand. Now an adult armed with golden-hour guitar grooves and punchy clap beats, Orlando is blooming in more ways than one — making him, and his highly anticipated debut album, one to watch this summer. — Jess Huddleston