Music

Polun's romantic night behind the curtains, 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

Polun has co-written for Alessia Cara and Drake. (Polun/Facebook)

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:

  • Polun, Gracie Ella.
  • Luna L.
  • Elijah Woods.
  • Northsidebenji.
  • Shad.
  • Borelson featuring Dolothegifted, Eyeami, Teebe.

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 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.


'Higher Ground,' Polun, Gracie Ella

This is the debut song from Polun, but don't mistake him for a newcomer. Under his real name, Terence "Tee" Lam, he has been a successful producer (Jrdn's Juno Award-winning "Can't Choose") and co-songwriter (Alessia Cara's "Here" and Drake's "Too Good") and he puts those finely honed skills to use on "Higher Ground," a luscious, mid-tempo pop/R&B number that extols the virtues of a romantic night "behind the curtains." Songwriting and production are pristine, with funky touches of bass and electric piano helping the transitions among verse, pre-chorus and chorus. The song is also our happy introduction to vocalist Gracie Ella, who released a couple of soulful solo tracks earlier this year and is evidently on the rise. — Robert Rowat


'Flower (In Full Bloom),' Luna Li 

Earlier this year, Toronto artist Luna Li released an EP of instrumentals called Jams. Its 10 tracks, all roughly one-minute long, sounded like sketches of musical ideas, some primed for expansion. And that is exactly what frontwoman Hannah Kim did to the 48-second snippet titled "Flower." Now fully fleshed-out into a new track called "Flower (In Full Bloom)," the original's feathery harp and wavy guitar riff go from half coloured-in to full Technicolor thanks to added bass, keys and vocals from Kim and collaborator Serena Isioma, a rising artist from Chicago whose track "Sensitive" has racked up over 50 million streams on Spotify. Like other Luna Li songs, "Flower (In Full Bloom)" may feel breezy, but its lyrics reveal a different side: an unhealthy relationship where "the other person is there for the wrong reasons, to gain power and to use you to their advantage," as Kim said in a statement. Part of that ease you hear in Kim and Isioma's voices is possibly the song's reflective mood, with the two singing from the other side of that relationship now as Kim's words spill out with a nonchalant confidence: "I will go on thriving without you." — Melody Lau


'Someone New,' Elijah Woods

This new single from Elijah Woods has a surprising power-pop energy whose origin may lie in the track's songwriting roster: in addition to Woods and his frequent co-creator, Jamie Fine, Nickelback's Chad Kroeger is also credited. The latter's influence surely contributes to the song's stirring trajectory, which begins simply with Woods' voice accompanied by a lone repeated guitar note, and builds through its verses to reach stadium-anthem proportions. The song's defining feature is a sternum-shaking rhythmic gesture that fills every other bar with a stuttering subdivision of the beat. It really gets you swaying along with the song's compound meter. We'll add this one to our favourite waltzes in Canadian pop music— RR


'Keep Runnin',' Northsidebenji 

The video for Northsidebenji's latest single starts with a message: "Apologies for the wait." After a two-year hiatus (other than his single "30,000 ft" with DJ Charlie B in July), the Toronto rapper is ready to drop all the heat he's been cooking in the studio. And if "Keep Runnin'" is anything to go by, the wait has been worth it. His upcoming EP, The Extravagant Collection, is out Oct. 22. Produced by RicoRunDat and BavaroBeatz, "Keep Runnin'" is a song about making money by any means necessary, set to a melancholic piano melody and trap synths. When Northsidebenji raps, "Stuck in the trap with a whole lotta money/ see, I'm in the house from Monday to the Sunday/ it ain't too much I wouldn't do for these hundreds," it feels equally boastful and despairing, like he's trapped by his "money machine" that keeps running. Northsidebenji's effortless flow and introspective lyrics demonstrate why he's poised to lead the new vanguard of Toronto hip hop. — Kelsey Adams


'Black Averageness,' Shad

So you've heard of Black excellence 
I love Black excellence 
Unfortunately this is not that 
This is something different 
Check it out.

The latest single from Shad's brand new and sixth album, Tao, has a joyous bounce to it, the spacious piano chords and organ flourishes a perfect medium for his message: a "fun celebration of our beautifully imperfect selves in a society that still struggles to see our humanity." Talking to Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe on CBC Music's The Block recently, Shad dove deeper into his tongue-in-cheek riff on the expectation of Black excellence: "My favourite line in the song is, 'I have every right to be/ like a B or a C/ with a durag on/ while I ski.' Just that prerogative to be our very ordinary, potentially real selves ... there's a message to it because of stereotypes that exist in our society, it's like obviously we know the negative stereotypes, but there can also be the stereotype that we're sort of magically endowed with these talents. And it's like no, most of us are normal," he finished, laughing. The video, directed by Justin Broadbent, has Shad walking around, doing everyday things: missing (and sinking) hoops, gardening, hammocking, chilling on a swing set, watching basketball; an average day for an average person. "I hope everyone can laugh while listening to it and feel liberated a bit," Shad said a liberation that ends up being true of the whole album. — Holly Gordon


'Fearless,' Borelson feat. Dolothegifted, Eyeami, Teebee 

Toronto-based Afro-fusion artist Borelson spent his formative years in Gabon, Congo and France before arriving in Canada, and for his latest single he enlisted the help of three other artists from the African diaspora. The result is an explosive collab, a hip-hop song inflected with the flavours of Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Angola. The bass-heavy track reverberates as they take turns dropping verses about their own approaches to fearlessness, resilience and diasporic pride. From tales of mothers praying on their knees, fighting every day to give their children better lives, to the importance of laying out stepping stones to uplift future generations, the artists are contextualizing what it takes to make it as an immigrant. Borelson solidifies this spirit on the chorus: "We cut the nonsense, it's time to grow ... we fearin' nothing, the ancestors know." The video is as high-energy as the song, with dancers battling it out on rooftops and in clandestine parking lots. Blending different styles of dance like gwara gwara (South Africa), azonto (Ghana), shaku shaku (Nigeria), rosalinda (Congo) and more, Nina Bai's choreography highlights the range of influences that make the song itself so exhilarating. — KA

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