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Tegan and Sara, Scott Helman, Safia Nolin and more: songs you need to hear this week

6 fresh tracks to revive your playlist right now.

6 fresh tracks to revive your playlist right now

Safia Nolin (pictured) teams up with John K. Samson for a reimagining of Taking Back Sunday's 'Cute Without the E.' (Alex et Jodi)

Here at CBC Music, we're always on high alert for new songs by Canadian artists.

This week, songs by Tegan and Sara, Johnny Orlando, Scott Helman and Ruben Young have grabbed our attention, as well as two exciting collaborations: Safia Nolin featuring John K. Samson and Mount Eerie featuring Julie Doiron. 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.


'Please Help Me,' Tegan and Sara

Tegan and Sara's latest album, Hey, I'm Just Like You, finds the twin sister duo revisiting the music they wrote when they were teenagers on the cusp of breaking out but still living in their suburban high-school worlds. "For the most part we didn't touch the melodies, lyrics and choruses," Sara Quin explained to Now Magazine. What they did instead was polish up and, in some cases, Frankenstein elements together, to create something new that still preserved the ideas they once jotted down or recorded. 

It's with this in mind that a song like the stripped-down acoustic "Please Help Me" hits listeners square in the gut. "What if I become all the horrible things I said that I would never be?" Sara questions, as Tegan sings backup. Throughout the press cycle for this album and their companion book, High School, Sara has opened up about the self-hatred and homophobia she directed at herself growing up, a mindset that informs heartbreaking thoughts like the ones detailed on this track. But the silver lining to some of the album's most devastating lines is that Tegan and Sara persevered and have come out of their earlier experiences stronger and better, personally and musically. The process of this album and memoir allowed for the Quin sisters to look back, assess and build compassion toward their younger selves — an exercise that all of us could possibly benefit from. 

— Melody Lau 


'All These Parties,' Johnny Orlando

I'm so sick of all these parties when I'd rather all of you
I'm so done with sipping sadness, feeling dead in living rooms

At 16, Johnny Orlando seems a trifle young for celebrity ennui, and yet he has channelled that condition into an infectious humblebrag of a pop song that's essentially the thematic sequel to Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran's recent "I Don't Care." Like that song, "All These Parties" has a tropical-pop flavour, but Orlando has enhanced his with a more inventive melodic contour than Bieber/Sheeran's. The lines above, taken from the pre-chorus, are sung in a jagged descending line, while the chorus's high-lying phrases showcase Orlando's flutey falsetto — an assured, effective performance sure to bolster his growing army of stans.

— Robert Rowat


'Everything Sucks,' Scott Helman

Sometimes everything sucks, and that's OK. Remember moping under the bleachers with your hoodie tied all the way up? What about sulking in your bed with your blinds drawn? Scott Helman is here to reaffirm that those experiences are valid and universal. While the lyrics to "Everything Sucks" are melancholic, the upbeat accompaniment will lift your spirits. The new track comes with a glitchy visualizer — "I put my entire mess of a brain into this thing," Helman claims.

— Natasha Ramoutar

Editor's note: strong language warning.


'Cute Without the E,' Safia Nolin feat. John K. Samson

On Safia Nolin's cover of Taking Back Sunday's "Cute Without the E," gone are the electric guitars and frenetic energy of the American rock band's 2002 emo hit and instead we're struck with the gravity of lines like "When everything you'll get is everything you've wanted (well, which would you prefer?)/ my finger on the trigger or/ me face down, down across your floor?" when sparsely sung by the Quebec singer-songwriter over acoustic guitar. John K. Samson perfectly backs up Nolin on the track, his welcome voice dipping in and out as Nolin picks her way through the verses she's chosen from the original. "Cute Without the E" is one of four emo covers Nolin just released last week as part of her xX3m0 $0ng$ 2 $!nG @L0nG 2Xx  EP, which she called "a gift for the Myspace generation" and an homage to all the sad songs that moulded her. Check out the full project here

— Holly Gordon


'Vienna,' Ruben Young

Having enjoyed advance tracks "Rachel Green" and "Colors," we pounced on Ruben Young's debut EP, Dreamstate, when it was released on Sept. 27 and got stuck repeating track 1, a gorgeous, rhapsodic torch song called "Vienna." That's the city to which our narrator's lover has fled with another man, leaving him in a self-reflective dream state (hence the album's title.) The played-backwards sample that underpins this soulful R&B song is a clever touch, since the narrator seems ready to turn back time and do things differently. "And now I fall into a crisis/ I never knew this kind of nightness," he pines with an appealing rasp in his voice that recalls John Legend, especially as he sings the song out — a sort of pensive, freestyle coda. — RR

Hear Ruben Young and all your favourite Soul/R&B artists on CBC Music's Marvin's Room with host Amanda Parris.


'Love Without Possession,' Mount Eerie feat. Julie Doiron

Mount Eerie's Phil Elverum first teamed up with New Brunswick's Julie Doiron back in 2008 for Lost Wisdom (an album also featuring Ontario's Fred Squire), but his love of her music began much earlier: "[Julie Doiron] has been my favourite singer since 1993 when I first heard her band Eric's Trip and subsequently devoted my life to music and art," the Washington-based singer stated in the Fader

On "Love Without Possession," Elverum again teams up with Doiron, their voices at once making space for each other, as well as perfectly supporting one another, as they search to redefine the word "love." "'Love,' a small word/ unable to hold/ while we stretch at its meaning," they sing together on the second verse, the slow strum of the guitar shifting — and eventually swapping out for an electric — as they continue with their gentle meditation. This is the first of eight new tracks from the duo, the full Lost Wisdom pt. 2 album to be released Nov. 8, 2019. — HG