Pup, Madeline Merlo, BadBadNotGood and more: songs you need to hear this week
8 fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now
Here at CBC Music, we're always on high alert for new songs by Canadian artists, especially during this time of social isolation, when music continues to provide entertainment, comfort and distraction.
This week, we're listening to new tracks from Pup, Rich Aucoin, Madeline Merlo, BadBadNotGood, and Potatohead People featuring Clear Mortifee. We also came across some nice covers by guitarist Justice Der and Dave Faber. 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.
The cacophony of guitars buzzing against a rumbling bass and pounding drums can feel exhilarating for some and anxiety-inducing for others. It's a duality that Toronto band Pup plays with on their latest song, "Anaphylaxis." Inspired by an incident where singer Stefan Babcock witnessed his partner's cousin get stung by a bee, this new song follows a hypochondriac who is mid-freak out: "I think I'm dying/ I'm hoping it's all in my head." Even though Pup has perfected the art of translating full-blown meltdowns into songs, it's great to see them continue to find new ways to make those moments sound fun and/or cathartic. — Melody Lau
'So Much More,' Clear Mortifee, Potatohead People
Potatohead People is the duo of Vancouver producers Nick Wisdom and AstroLogical, who've been putting out reliably excellent neo-soul music for a decade now. For this latest single, they team up with fellow Vancouverite Clear Mortifee, whose crystalline voice belies a certain urbanity that pervades this scintillating, disco-inspired track. "We have so much more to bring than our skin," sings Mortifee, introducing a chorus that celebrates spirit — the powerful force that defines and unites us — over mere physical traits. — Robert Rowat
'How it Breaks,' Rich Aucoin
If Rich Aucoin's newest track sounds familiar, it's because that hi-hat kickstarted beat is from Rihanna's 2007 hit "Umbrella" — but it's also because nostalgia was the name of Aucoin's game for this perfectly modern protest song. "I thought the referential spirit would be an interesting thing to play off while attempting to write a protest song in the lineage of protest songs," Aucoin explained in a statement.
Taking cues from David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, Rage Against the Machine and more, Aucoin wrote a protest song that aims at the heart of the right/left-wing political divide, with an accompanying video edited from hundreds of news broadcasts — with the word "Trump" censored. Featuring vocals from Simone Denny (Love Inc.), Kyla Charter (Patrick Watson/July Talk), James Baley (U.S. Girls), Maylee Todd and Tarik Henry, Aucoin has built an anthem for the people: "I hear you and you hear me/ letting go of fear's the only way to be free." — Holly Gordon
'Goodbye Blue,' 'Glide (Goodbye Blue Pt. 2),' BadBadNotGood
Toronto jazz group BadBadNotGood have always presented two sides of themselves. There's BBNG, the ubiquitous house band that plays behind vocalists like Ghostface Killah or Charlotte Day Wilson, and then there's BBNG, the band that just gets into a groove and plays it out for a gorgeous instrumental. With two new tracks, we get to see both sides at work.
"Goodbye Blue" is a slow, pensive piece featuring stunning vocals from up-and-coming Toronto singer Jonah Yano, who sings lines like "it's the chamomile, it's the afternoon" with such a languorous and fluid voice that it sounds like it's coming from a dream. Then there is "Glide (Goodbye Blue Pt. 2)," which features not just an instrumental version of the previous track, but one that takes the melodies into all new directions. Taken together, they're the perfect soundtrack for times like these. — Jesse Kinos-Goodin
'Kiss Kiss,' Madeline Merlo
Maple Ridge, B.C. artist Madeline Merlo flexed her songwriting skills on NBC's Songland earlier this month when she penned the song "Champagne Night" for country stars Lady Antebellum. Recently, she turned her focus back to her own project when she released three new songs including the fiery post-breakup hook-up track, "Kiss Kiss." In the song, Merlo tells her subject, "Maybe we should kiss kiss right now/ maybe we could just ditch this whole crowd," but her tone is insistent — she's not likely to take no for an answer. Here, Merlo is in control and while the pain of her previous relationship can still be felt in her voice, she's clear that she's not here to fall in love. — ML
'Close to You' (Carpenters cover), Justice Der
Looking for good music you can play at 3 a.m. without disturbing your neighbours or housemates? Justice Der's soulful guitar covers fit the bill. For his latest, he goes back 50 years to the title track of the Carpenters' legendary album Close to You. We fully appreciate the irony of the song's title during this time of social distancing, but we also appreciate the delicacy of Der's phrasing and his graceful improvisation on this immortal melody. — RR
'Time After Time' (Cyndi Lauper cover), Faber Drive, sleep.ing
Of Dave Faber's four children, two have emerged so far as musicians in their own right. The eldest, Isaiah, is enjoying success rapping under the name Powfu. And last November, Faber and his daughter, who goes by sleep.ing, released an inspirational duet called "You Lift me Up." Now Faber and sleep.ing are back with this nice acoustic cover of Cyndi Lauper's classic 1983 hit. It's a fairly straight-ahead rendition, which is good, but we do love the slight modification to the melodic line in the chorus, and father and daughter harmonize beautifully. — RR