Music

Willow and Avril Lavigne's pop-punk collab, and 8 more songs you need to hear this week

Fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now.

Fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now

Willow Smith's latest album, Lately I feel Everything, includes guest features from Travis Barker, Tierra Whack and Canadian pop-punk star, Avril Lavigne. (Willow Smith/Facebook, Avril Lavigne, Facebook)

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

This week, we got hooked on new songs from:

  • Ocie Elliott.
  • Willow and Avril Lavigne featuring Travis Barker.
  • Jennah Barry.
  • Deadmau5 and Lights.
  • Alex Porat.
  • Priyanka.
  • Waants featuring Keeper E.
  • Tobi and Mick Jenkins.
  • Planet Giza.

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.

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.


'Wait for You,' Ocie Elliott

I've been missing you a lot,
I've been working the day right through,
Every time that I stop
I rediscover a place without you.

Waiting for the one you love — whether it's to eventually reunite or to assuage your grief following a breakup — is one of romance's most stirring sentiments. Ocie Elliott, the indie-folk duo of Victoria's Sierra Lundy and Jon Middleton, address the subject on this understated new single, their gentle voices blending intrinsically to suggest a comforting inner monologue. The cozy acoustic guitar and piano get a beautiful lift by touches of synthesized strings, hair-raising in their simplicity. — Robert Rowat

'G R O W,' Willow and Avril Lavigne feat. Travis Barker 

Pop-punk is (or was) the soundtrack to many people's adolescence, a genre that gave young listeners a much-needed catharsis. But historically, its perspectives have been predominantly male, which has spawned a laundry list of problems that created barriers for women, non-binary and marginalized voices. In its latest resurgence, we're starting to see that scale balance out a bit thanks to artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Willow Smith, two women of colour who are looking to expand on the legacies of Paramore's Hayley Williams and Avril Lavigne. The latter has teamed up with Smith (and Blink-182 drummer, Travis Barker) on a track called "G R O W," a classic '00s-sounding pop-punk anthem about empowerment and growth. "I've been putting work in, healing myself/ still got room to grow," both Smith and Lavigne take turns singing on its chorus. It's a message of embracing progress and change that's even more poignant coming from a female perspective, as both artists remind fans: "I hope you know you're not alone/ being confused ain't right or wrong/ you'll find that you're your own best friend/ and no, that ain't a f--kin' metaphor." — Melody Lau 

'Venus in Heat,' Jennah Barry

"Venus in Heat" has the pretense of a midsummer lullaby, that gentle guitar and whisper of strings holding a rhythmic sway alongside Jennah Barry's honeyed voice. But the Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia-based singer has a knack for following that gentle lure with a heartbreaking snap, which comes buried in the opening verse of her first new song since 2020's Holiday album: "Sunday morning after/ warm electric buzz/ ridin' on the wings of the one you love/ crying in the bathroom/ just to get it out/ hot tears on my swollen mouth." "This song is about the first few days of falling in love, when you feel great and terrible all at the same time," explained Barry in a press release. Big feelings are complicated, and "Venus in Heat" is a love song to hold onto while riding through those waves. — Holly Gordon

'When the Summer Dies,' Deadmau5 and Lights

We've been waiting for these two to reunite since 2018, when they first released a collaboration — the dark and excellent "Drama Free" — and now they're back with the hard-driving and, once again, dark, "When the Summer Dies."  The signature loud and crisp Deadmau5 sound hits you right out of the gate, with a slight ode to the EDM producer's early years, albeit with a more club-friendly beat. That body-moving pulse is quickly joined by modulated vox from Lights, not sounding too far from "Drama Free," but shifting toward a dystopian reverie: "So hang the DJ, play pretend/ burn the city, f--k your friends/ and sing along." There you find a nod to the Smiths, and the notion to not accept what you're being presented, unless you want to, in which case, "let the black smoke rise," all the while bopping along to this jam. Expect an alternative version of this tune any day now, and a video for the song, crowdsourced via the video game platform Core. — Ben Aylsworth

'Bubblegum,' Alex Porat

Continuing her rise to the top of the pop game, Alex Porat is back with arguably her most polished song yet: a mid-tempo ballad about feeling chewed up and spit out by the one person you (somehow) still want most. While the title might suggest otherwise, the song isn't overly precious — it's confident in its Lowell-assisted songwriting, backed by moody, Clairo-style guitars and carried by Porat's signature breathy vocals that do so much, while not doing very much at all. As the song thumps on, it's clear that Porat's versatile voice can shine in almost any format, but two things remain consistent and clear: she sticks in your head from one play until the next, and she's going places fast.  — Jess Huddleston

'Bitch, I'm Busy,' Priyanka

Music by drag queens is rarely taken seriously by the mainstream. Even though a franchise like RuPaul's Drag Race has skyrocketed the profiles of hundreds of queens around the world, the original music they create can often be overlooked or treated as a joke. (A 2019 Guardian piece notes that drag queens have found more success on niche Billboard charts like comedy as opposed to the Top 100.) And sure, camp plays a significant role in most queens' music, but that same winking spirit is never questioned when cisgender pop stars like Lady Gaga or Katy Perry employ similar tricks. 

For those unsure of where to start with the drag queen canon of music, we recommend a relatively new addition: Canada's Drag Race winner, Priyanka. The Toronto queen-turned-artist recently released her debut EP, Taste Test, an energetic collection of club and house-inspired anthems that anchor larger-than-life production with infectious melodies. In particular, "Bitch, I'm Busy" feels like Priyanka's personal theme song, a confident pop song about being too busy for real romance. "I bet you're feeling fine," she sings, "But we've run out of time/ I'm here to take what's mine." Priyanka knows what she wants, and if you can't fulfil her needs, then please get out of this drag superstar's way. — ML

'Back to the Beginning,' waants feat. Keeper E

Could we go back to the beginning? (I still want you)
When we were young (come with me)
Could we go back to the beginning? (I'm still right here)
When we were young (I'm in love)

Nostalgia pulls hardest during the summer months, with longer days and freer movements leading to much more "remember when" time than can be healthy. But with "Back to the Beginning," Halifax's waants strikes the perfect balance between that rose-coloured hue of the past and the current desire that still lives between two people who spent those hot, sticky months together way back when. Fellow local artist Keeper E joins waants for the parenthetical lyrics on the chorus, dropping in for her own verses on the back half of the song as it simmers down from its drum and synth groove. "We'll dream 'til our gas tank runs out/ drive 'til our thoughts hit our mouths," she sings, promising that today can be just as good as all those yesterdays ago. For further summer waants bops, check out his debut album, Love u Forever, which came out July 16 via LHM Records— HG

'Off the Drugs,' Tobi and Mick Jenkins

Polaris shortlister Tobi taps American rapper Mick Jenkins for this guitar and horn-laden slow jam that further proves the Toronto artist's chameleon-like abilities within both R&B and hip hop. A bonafide vibe from start to finish, "Off the Drugs" has Tobi and Jenkins keeping things slow, gooey and golden throughout a druggy confessional that's more of a trip than a sobriety anthem. Jenkins' effortless baritone rhymes complement Tobi's soulful starring role, boasting the kind of expert wordplay that earned Jenkins critical favourite status in the first place. Tobi's latest in a string of 2021 singles, "Off the Drugs" is proof that he excels both solo and alongside some of the genres' most interesting voices — and as the cameos get bigger, his future only gets brighter. — JH

'Out of Touch,' Planet Giza

If you're a fan of Blue Lab Beats, Ezra Collective or the Robert Glasper Experiment, then you need to know Planet Giza, the trio of Montrealers Rami B, Tony Stone and DoomX, who're building an impressive following for their sophisticated blend of soul, jazz, hip hop and electronica. Earlier this year, they released their second EP, Don't Throw Rocks at the Moon, and have followed that up with a new single, "Out of Touch," featuring Philadelphia-based rapper Ivy Sole. A wavering electric piano and intricate percussion underpin Stone as he sing-raps his concerns. "Texting is a choice; lately it's been feeling like a chore," he notes before asking in the chorus, "Are you still my person, are you still my love?" In response, Sole enumerates a litany of miscommunications and finally concludes, "this could turn to velvet if you let it, baby, let it." — RR

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