Daniel Caesar, Scott Helman, Arkells and more: songs you need to hear this week
Each week, CBC Music producers come together to highlight Canada's best new tracks.
The songs that stood out this week come from Daniel Caesar, Scott Helman, Arkells and more. Scroll down to find out why you need to hear them, too.
What new Canadian tunes are you currently obsessed with? Share them with us on Twitter @CBCMusic.
'Kerosene,' Omar LinX
You may know him for his work with Marshmello, but Toronto-born Omar LinX is a compelling hip-hop/electronic artist in his own right, as evidenced by his latest song, "Kerosene." His rapping brings to mind the Black Eyed Peas' apl.de.ap, with its uncomplicated flow. "It's gettin' kinda boring/ drinkin' 40s, watching Maury/ mistakes are what have made me/ love that you never hate me" — it's a surprisingly vulnerable tone that really draws you into this ode to keeping one's flame burning. The track also benefits from some ingenious touches such as the lonely sounding guitar counterpoint that underpins the rap verses and the appearance of a tuba (!) in the chorus.
— Robert Rowat
'Hang Ups,' Scott Helman
"I know that I've got hang ups/ so baby please don't hang up." It's a cheesy line, but Scott Helman really pulls it off in his earworm of a new single, "Hang Ups." Released as part of a three-song EP (including tracks "Dostoevsky" and "Lifeguard"), "Hang Ups" has one hell of an infectious guitar line, with Helman's cheeky rhyming keeping time with the dance-along beat. Before you know it, you'll have played this song 15 consecutive times.
— Holly Gordon
- 'Who Hurt You?,' Daniel Caesar
- 'Beauty & Essex,' Free Nationals feat. Daniel Caesar and Unknown Mortal Orchestra
It feels like it's been an eternity since Daniel Caesar put out his Polaris Music Prize-shortlisted album, Freudian. In reality, it's only been a little over a year but fans have been craving more music from the Toronto R&B star. And while he has hopped on a collaboration here and there (Jessie Reyez's "Figures, a Reprise" is a highlight), fans got a double dose of new tunes from Caesar this past week.
First, there's the solo track, "Who Hurt You?," featuring T-Pain, which boasts Caesar's signature sensual melodies but lyrically goes a step further as he sings explicitly about an Atlanta stripper he spent an evening with. Then, there's Caesar's guest spot on Free Nationals' equally smooth, if not even more lush and effective, track "Beauty & Essex" alongside New Zealand band Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Between the two releases, it's clear that Caesar's hypnotic croon is still as captivating as ever. Here's hoping we get to end this year with a few more songs from Caesar to add to our playlist.
— Melody Lau
'So Down,' Mother Mother
Mother Mother's seventh studio album, Dance and Cry, will be released Nov. 2, and the Vancouver band just dropped the latest single, "So Down." While Mother Mother labelled this its "quintessential campfire song to date," the words "so down" don't refer to being party-ready — instead, "So Down" is an uptempo cry of heartbreak, detailing a wish to move forward while feeling paralysed. Ryan Guldemond sings verse after verse about needing to get his "heart back open," but he can't quite pull himself out of the abyss. The plaintive refrain "I'm trying" that closes the track is devastating — but if you leave that out, it certainly could still be a good strum-along, sing-along song. — HG
'Only For a Moment,' Arkells
The Hamilton rockers have some big ambitions on their new album, Rally Cry. Throughout the album, which not only follows 2016's Morning Report but also Arkells' interim smash hit "Knocking at the Door," choruses are blown into over-the-top anthems, rhythms are tailor-made to clap along to en masse and influences are taken from every corner of the musical universe, from Kanye West to Gloria Gaynor.
On "Only For a Moment," a slightly more understated but still upbeat and catchy number couched in the early half of Rally Cry, singer Max Kerman illustrates detailed memories where "only for a moment tonight/ we can feel all right." While Kerman says its acoustic feeling comes from a track like Niall Horan's "Slow Hands," "Only For a Moment" can easily also remind listeners of bands like Phoenix or Spoon. But thankfully, references aside, much of Rally Cry does bear a signature sound that solely belongs to Arkells, a sound that will surely be echoing out of stadiums across the country for months to come. — ML
'Midnight Lights,' Conro feat. Ini Oladosu
If your dance playlist could use some sprucing up, Conor Patton (a.k.a. Conro) is here to help with a fabulous new EP called All Eyes on Me. Standout track "Midnight Lights" sets a nocturnal mood with an undulating, syncopated beat and shimmering bell-tree effects — an indigo nebula from which Calgary's Ini Oladosu emerges with his winning, tuneful rap that dovetails seamlessly with the chorus. "We're feeling the vibe under these midnight lights," Conro sings, echoing our sentiments to a T. By secluding himself in arcadian Kelowna, B.C., Conro has evidently found the inspiration he needs to write and produce music of a perfectly urbane nature. — RR