Shawn Mendes, BadBadNotGood, Nikki Yanofsky and more: songs you need to hear this week

Here are seven new Canadian tracks that grabbed our attention this week.
Shawn Mendes attends the Billboard's 2018 Live Music Summit Panels at Montage Beverly Hills on November 13, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Getty Images)

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

The songs that stood out this week come from BadBadNotGood, Shawn Mendes and Zedd, Jadea Kelly, Valley, 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.

'Big Mouth,' Nikki Yanofsky

If you slept on Nikki Yanofsky's second album, 2014's Little Secret, you missed the first step in her reinvention. Instead of continuing with her 16-going-on-30 vibe, jazz standards and adult contemporary tunes, she opted for songs with a little more soul and a lot more bounce. If her new song "Big Mouth," the title track from her forthcoming album, is any indication, Yanofsky isn't done pushing herself. "Big Mouth" is radio-ready, polished pop with just the right lyrics to make it a 2018 girl-power anthem. "You're so scared of my sass, all my smarts, all my class/ Boy you got some work to do," Yanofsky sings. But in 2018, it's not enough to just say these words without putting them into some kind of action, which is why the song's music video — with its reasonably inclusive backup dancers — is another welcome step in the right direction.

— Andrea Warner

'Tried,' BadBadNotGood and Little Dragon

While singer Yukimi Nagano is used to soaking her voice in synth-pop soundscapes in her long-running band Little Dragon, she fits perfectly on Toronto group BadBadNotGood's latest release, "Tried." In a statement, the Swedish band said they were drawn to BadBadNotGood's "raw sweaty energy." On their swirling, soulful collaboration, Nagano's smooth vocals melt seamlessly into the track's dreamy fog of bass, hi-hats and flutes. It's a song that lyrically tackles a feeling of helplessness, but the joint force of BadBadNotGood and Little Dragon has ensured that there is levity to the despair and, in times of need, it's possible to float above the fray.

— Melody Lau

'Lost in Japan (Zedd remix),' Shawn Mendes

"It's crazy to me that you can physically feel your heart skip when you see or hear something you really care about," tweeted Shawn Mendes a few months ago, and that's exactly what happened to us when we found out about Zedd's remix of "Lost in Japan." The EDM superstar has exceeded our hopes with his artful new take on the song we haven't been able to "get off our minds" (as Mendes sings in the chorus) since it came out last March. With its subtle vocoder chords, unobtrusive synth layers and ticking clock (surely Zedd's trademark at this point), this is a remix better suited to a basement speakeasy than a stadium of 40,000, for which our arrhythmic hearts are truly grateful.

— Robert Rowat

'Wildflowers,' Jadea Kelly

Ahead of what would have been Tom Petty's 67th birthday, and a year after his untimely death, Toronto singer Jadea Kelly is curating an all-Canadian tribute playlist to honour the late American songwriter. The collection will include covers from 24 Canadian acts, including Royal Wood and Dwayne Gretzky, who'll cover hits like "Free Fallin'," "American Girl" and "Wildflowers," which Kelly poignantly rearranged herself. Highlighting her delicate vocals over soft piano and strings, this slowed-down "Wildflowers" take will make you feel equal parts appreciation for Petty's legacy, and melancholy for the loss of a great.

— Jess Huddleston

'Take me Home,' Chris Castello feat. Liza

Performing at the inaugural Scarborough expansion of Nuit Blanche Toronto, Chris Castello took to a stage that was tucked away in a loading dock below Scarborough Town Centre. The stage was curated by RISE, a community organization founded and led by Randell Adjei that is a cornerstone of the arts scene in the eastern suburb. Artist Chris Castello is a frequent collaborator with RISE, and recently dropped his ultra 92 album. While all the songs off the album have an alluring, mellow quality, the soulful track "Take me Home" is a standout. The earnest, yearning vocals of both Chris Castello and collaborator Liza rise and layer in a mesmerizing harmony. It's clear from the sincerity in his voice and his performance at Nuit Blanche that all roads home lead back to Scarborough.

— Natasha Ramoutar

'Unleashed,' Christine Fellows

Winnipeg singer-songwriter Christine Fellows will release her seventh studio album Roses on the Vine on Nov. 16, and the first single, "Unleashed," is a not-so-subtle warning that "the tide is rising." What begins as an up-tempo guitar-and-voice track morphs into a full-band sound (that band includes partner in music and life, John K. Samson), with Fellows later singing, "We are brazen animals/ We enrage our enemies/ With rousing elegies," before noting exactly what "we" looks like: "Forthright/ Head held high/ A shining knight in a losing battle." The songs on Fellows' new album were "inspired by the lives and work of other women," and in this red-hot-rage time of Brett Kavanaugh hearings, "Unleashed" is a perfectly rousing folk anthem for those who need to yell it out.

— Holly Gordon

'Closer to the Picture,' Valley

Toronto pop band Valley has dropped our new favourite anthem for Fridays at 5 p.m. With its jangly, guitar-forward production and sunny E major disposition, "Closer to the Picture" is a joyful nod to classic Britpop tunes like the La's "There she Goes" and the Cure's "In Between Days." But Valley amps it up with imaginative samples, thrilling drops and a refreshing melodic contour perfectly suited to Rob Laska's vocals. Styled as an anthem for outcasts, the song (and its accompanying video) will appeal to introverts and wallflowers everywhere. — RR


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