Ruth B, Avril Lavigne and more: songs you need to hear this week

Here are the hot new Canadian tracks that have got us all excited this week.
On her September 2018 song 'Head Above Water,' Avril Lavigne describes her 3-year battle with Lyme disease. (David Neean)

Each week, CBC Music producers come together to highlight Canada's best new tracks.

This week, we're loving new songs from Ruth B, Avril Lavigne, Nuela Charles and Young Galaxy. 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.

'Head Above Water,' Avril Lavigne

It's been five years since Canadian pop-rock star Avril Lavigne has released any new music, and there's a big reason why. Lavigne has been very open about her battle with Lyme disease for the past three years, calling that time "one of the scariest" of her life. So it makes sense that Lavigne's return wouldn't be as raucous as her biggest hits, "Sk8er Boi," "Complicated" or "Girlfriend." Instead, Lavigne leans into an underrated strength of hers: the ballad. "Head Above Water" is a moving piano number that details Lavigne's health struggles as she sings, "God keep my head above water/ don't let me drown, it gets harder." It's an insightful moment that lets fans into the singer's vulnerabilities. It's easy to tell that music has helped Lavigne, in some ways, stay afloat and surely fans are grateful for this long-awaited return.

— Melody Lau

'Rare,' Ruth B

When asked what she strives for, Ruth B told CBC's Ian Hanomansing, "to make sure that I'm always saying things I believe in and writing songs that matter." This sincerity comes across in all of the work that the Juno award-winning singer-songwriter releases. At the heart of her most recent single, "Rare," is the universal importance of being valued. Directed at a newly beloved, the lyrics alternate between praising the budding romance and giving a cautionary message: "You can search everywhere/ But just know that I'm rare." While the song features her signature piano and soothing vocals, she's also joined by an ensemble made up entirely of Black women, whose photo she shared on Instagram. With her reflective new track, Ruth B delivers a story that resonates across generations.

— Natasha Ramoutar

'Future,' Young Galaxy

After 12 years of performing together, Young Galaxy's Stephen Ramsay and Catherine McCandless have announced that they will be going on an indefinite hiatus. Before doing so, they'll leave fans with a three-song EP titled Snow Leopard, out this Friday. In their goodbye letter, McCandless teases future solo projects in the works — so this isn't the end for either member. Instead, they'll take time to "go inside, stir it up, and regenerate." For now, fans can check out "Future," a six-minute meditation on the anxieties that come with looking ahead. Regardless of what's in store for McCandless and Ramsay, they sure sound mighty confident and ready to tackle anything. — ML

'Danger,' Nuela Charles

Here's a song for all the adrenaline junkies out there. "Danger," is a pop-rock banger, complete with guitar distortion and a driving beat — a surprising evolution from the soulful sounds we've come to expect from Nuela Charles. "You've got the goods, I've got a match, we'll start a fire," she sings, with menace in her voice. It's not that you'll need a safe word or anything, but you may be tempted to add a revving motorcycle in your mind's ear. Which is not to say the production is lacking, on the contrary — Ryan Worsley (Dear Rouge, Said the Whale) has crafted a robust sound, enabling Charles to shift up to a new expressive gear. Watch for her new EP, Distant Danger, on Oct. 19.

— Robert Rowat


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