The Weeknd's lovestruck finale on Dawn FM, and 4 more songs you need to hear this week
Fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now
Here at CBC Music, we're always on high alert for the best new songs by Canadian artists.
This week, we're listening to new tracks from:
- The Weeknd.
- 11:11 featuring Anders.
- Michael Feuerstack featuring Little Scream.
- Dom Vallie.
Scroll down to find out why you should listen, too.
Hit play on our Songs You Need to Hear stream, filled with songs that CBC Music's producers have chosen for their playlists, and tune into CBC Music Mornings every Thursday to hear CBC Music's Jess Huddleston and Saroja Coelho reveal which of these tracks is the standout new Canadian song.
'Less Than Zero,' The Weeknd
The Weeknd's brand new album, Dawn FM, is a funky, futuristic pot of pop gold, but it's this album closer — or, the last sung song before the Jim Carrey-narrated outro — that might already be the best deep cut of the year. The song's universally likable guitar-pop progression is the stuff of New Order dreams, providing a delicate backdrop to Abel Tesfaye's saccharine pleas. CBC Music radio producer Nathan Gill likened "Less Than Zero" to the sun rising after dawn, and I can't think of a more fitting visual to pair with the lovestruck finale. Perhaps the best moment, interestingly, is the song's stunning final 15 seconds, when the album's grit washes away in favour of just Tesfaye alone with the acoustic guitar melody. Abel, if you're reading this, feel free to take a breather — but we're ready for your acoustic pivot next. — Jess Huddleston
The first line immediately sounds an alarm: "It's all my fault." As its title clearly lays out, the latest single from Ontario rock duo Softcult illustrates someone who is gaslighting their partner. "It's in my head," twin sisters Phoenix and Mercedes Arn-Horn continue singing, atop a steady drum beat and minor guitar chords. "Guess I imagined what you did." Throughout the track, the Arn-Horns explore that "sinking feeling" that comes from having one's reality distorted, something they said in a statement is meant to help people who may be in a toxic relationship. "We wanted to raise awareness of this manipulation technique," they said, "so that whoever hears the song will be able to recognize those red flags if they encounter that kind of behaviour." If you're in the thick of a situation like this, the song's main refrain ("I don't know what I'm doing") can feel relatable. Softcult's aim here is to shine a light at the end of the tunnel, to guide listeners to the point, near the end of "Gaslight," where Phoenix and Mercedes sing with clarity: "I don't know who you're fooling." — Melody Lau
'They Ain't You,' 11:11 feat. Anders
Since dropping his album Honest in 2021 (which included the outstanding "Late to the Party"), Anders has been busy collaborating with fellow R&B musicians. Last week, he appeared on Dimi's "When You're Lonely," a slow jam with the Weeknd in its DNA, as well as "They Ain't You," a standout from 11:11's recent three-song EP, Wish List. The latter song zeroes in on that fragile stage following a breakup when you think you might be ready to date again, and then realize you're really not. "None of these girls could make me fall in love," sings Anders, his bright tenor arriving like a ray of light and contrasting nicely with 11:11's mellower, rather plush tones. "What it comes down to: they ain't you." — Robert Rowat
'Don't let me be Misunderstood' (Nina Simone cover), Michael Feuerstack feat. Little Scream
Michael Feuerstack's new covers album, Translations, was a welcome surprise release on Jan. 7, an invitation to dig into songs that are close to the songwriter's heart. In the detailed liner notes (a gift all their own), Feuerstack admits that he doesn't sing a lot of covers. "Often I feel strange trying to embody the sentiments of others (a voice is such a personal thing)," he writes. "I have lots of favourites, but the ones comprised here are some that I found myself able to sing. That is to say, they felt convincing coming from me." Listening to the album front to back multiple times, it honestly feels impossible to pick out only one song. "Oklahoma U.S.A." is a surprise, a melancholy and underrated song written by the Kinks' Ray Davies. But "Don't let me be Misunderstood" is a particular delight, the song, first sung by Nina Simone, buoyed by a groovy guitar riff and a mood that grows and settles through each chorus and verse. With backup vocals from Little Scream (Laurel Sprengelmeyer), drums by Mike Belyea and xylophone flourishes from Feuerstack, it's impossible not to be wooed by this translation. — Holly Gordon
'Been Himma,' Dom Vallie
Toronto-born, Kitchener-raised rapper Dom Vallie released a heater at the end of 2021 with enough energy to get us through all of 2022. It's always exhilarating to listen to a rapper who's really riding the beat and Vallie is fully in command of the distorted, futuristic production. The line "Talking big like you been him, I been himma," is his new motto, meaning rather than posturing, Vallie really embodies what he's spitting about. It's a self-confidence anthem with slick rhymes and indulgent themes: rocking Ferragamo belts, chinchilla fur for the frigid Toronto winters and being buried in a Margiela coffin to continue the flex in the afterlife. Play this brash track whenever you need a jolt of energy that espresso just can't deliver. — Kelsey Adams