La La Land to Julien Baker: 7 songs you need to hear this week

Our producers pick the songs you just can't miss.
This image released by Lionsgate shows Ryan Gosling, right, and Emma Stone in a scene from, La La Land. The film was nominated for an Oscar for best feature film. (Dale Robinette/Lionsgate/AP)

Each week, staff from CBC Music, Radio 2, Radio 3, Sonica and CBC regions across the country collect songs they just can't get out of their heads, and make a case for why you should listen, too. Press play below and discover new songs for your listening list.

Let us know via @CBCMusic what catches your ear, or if you have a new song you just can't stop playing.

BadBadNotGood and Jonti, 'God Only Knows' (Beach Boys cover)

When you bring together the musical genius of Brian Wilson, the soulful instrumentation of BadBadNotGood and the heartfelt vocals of Australian artist Jonti, you end up with magic. For this we can thank the folks at Triple J Radio, who live-broadcast artists covering some of their favourite songs in a weekly segment called Like a Version. Here's last week's instalment, and a beautiful cover of the 50-year-old Beach Boys classic.

—Amer Alkhatib (@ameralkhatib)

Kehlani feat. Little Simz, 'Table'

After a year of personal turbulence, '90s R&B-influenced Bay Area singer Kehlani already has her sights firmly on 2017. After a number of mixtapes, including the Grammy-nominated You Should Be Here, her debut album SweetSexySavage will be released early in the new year, and her latest single "Table" features rising North London MC Little Simz. Riding a sample of SWV's 1996 hit "Use Your Heart" — an early Neptunes production retooled for "Table" by DJ Dahi, DJ Relly Rell and Jahaan Sweet — Kehlani and Simz collaborate on asserting their independence, outlining exactly what each of them brings to the table. Kehlani's carefree vocal delivery underlines the fact that she is clearly having fun revelling in usurping expectations. "I've been a real down-to-earth chick, never surface/ I pick a backpack over a purse chick/ never at your service/ here for your worstest/ ha, don't I sound perfect?" The track also highlights Little Simz's verbal dexterity and assurance, just as she's on the cusp of her own upcoming sophomore album. It's a winning combination, and the chemistry between the two artists in their London-based video is damning visual confirmation.

— Del Cowie (@vibesandstuff)

Sam Patch, 'St. Sebastian'

The lead single off the debut solo album by Arcade Fire's Tim Kingsbury (under the moniker Sam Patch) is as funky and urgent as it is smooth. Backed by wife Natalie Shatula, Basia Bulat, Tortoise's John McEntire and Doug McCombs and fellow Arcade Firer Jeremy Gara, Kingsbury is set to release the self-produced Yeah You, And I in February before setting off on a North American tour. If this slice of Stereolab-influenced, Philip K. Dick-invoking urbane indie-pop is any indication, it will make for some perfect spring listening.

— Jonathan Dekel (@jondekel)

Fleece, 'Fix it Together'

The new single from Montreal four-piece Fleece feels like an escape — from this year, from the existential sinkhole that is your life, from this winter. "You're dreaming of something new," the song begins, encouraging listeners to find whatever it is that's not working in their lives and to "fix it together now, pick up the pieces and make your life true." Fleece is also made up of the guys behind that viral and, dare I say, very accurate "How to Make an Alt J Song" parody, but as seemingly easy as it is to make an Alt J song, Fleece is more akin to the likes of Tame Impala, traversing the outer rims of Revolver-era Beatles to deliver catchy, accessible, pop-driven psychedelia. "Fix it Together" delivers the kind of upbeat encouragement we need to move past a dreadful year, but even more so than that, it reminds me of seasons that are not winter, which we could all use right now. Fleece's second album, Voyager, is out Jan. 19.

— Jesse Kinos-Goodin (@jessekg)

'Another Day of Sun' (La La Land soundtrack)

Damien Chazelle's latest film La La Land opens with a bright burst of colour and sound, transforming a mundane traffic jam into a joyous musical number called "Another Day of Sun." An anthem for young dreamers, all in pursuit of happiness and success in the City of Angels, this song sets the tone and high expectations of both the film's characters and the viewers watching (who have no doubt read nothing but rave reviews of it in recent months). Thankfully the rest of the film meets these expectations, with Chazelle delivering his most spectacular feature film yet. But one of the most integral and outstanding elements of La La Land is its soundtrack, created by Chazelle collaborator Justin Hurwitz, that can veer moody at times, but always holds a sense of hope that is simply transcendent.

— Melody Lau (@melodylamb)

Julien Baker, 'Decorated Lawns'

Julien Baker's music may not scream "Christmas!" to most, but Jingle Yay! is not your typical yule log. A holiday compilation for Punk Talks, an organization that "provides free mental health assistance to bands industry professionals and fans," Jingle Yay! came out Dec. 1 and hosts plenty of nostalgic covers, but "Decorated Lawns" is a brand new one from Baker. "I loved you/ I loved you/ more than I hate me," she sings in the song's last heart-wrenching refrain, after detailing exactly how she wanted to decorate the front lawn last year. It's a glimmer of hope for a time that can be devastatingly hard on the heart and mind.

— Holly Gordon (@hollygowritely)

Big Freedia, 'Rudy the Big Booty Reindeer'

Taking a page from Beyoncé's playbook, the New Orleans Queen of Bounce has dropped a record without warning. A Very Big Freedia Christmazz EP is out now on various platforms, and the very first track is the Christmas song that we need — for the club. "Rudy the Big Booty Reindeer" starts off with traditional instrumentation before going gloriously full-on bounce. I mean, just try not to dance. Big Freedia did not come to play with you hoes. Turn up for the holidays, y'all.

Listen via Spotify.

— Judith Lynch (@CBCJudith)


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