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Beyoncé, Suuns, Leon Bridges, Tori Kelly, more: songs you need to hear this week

Editorial Staff

Each week, staff from CBC Music, Radio 2, 3, Sonica and CBC regions across the country collect songs they just can't get out of their heads, and make a case for why you should listen, too. Press play below and discover new songs for your listening list.

Let us know in the comments or via @CBCMusic what catches your ear, or if you have a new song you just can't stop playing.

Suuns, 'Translate'

Montreal band Suuns have unleashed a new track, "Translate," from their upcoming April full-length, Hold/Still. It features the dark and foggy tone of previous Suuns work, as if channelling a more sinister Canadian relative of the keyboard and synth-heavy U.K. band Clinic. "Translate" builds tension immediately and never lets go, as the music forces you into the deeper and more eerie recesses of your imagination. Join Suuns down the rabbit hole of dissonance, at the brink of mania, and find you may never want to leave.

— Alex Redekop (@alexredekop)

Tori Kelly, 'Something Beautiful'

When you listen to Tori Kelly's "Something Beautiful" you'll feel empowered. This mid-pop jazzy song reminds that, without failure, there can't be success. Her lyrics, "Can't feel the love without the pain/ The sun wouldn't matter without the rain/ You're not required to carry the weight/ So let it go," are powerful and inspiring. It's no wonder this 23-year-old from California is making waves. Kelly has been nominated for best new artist at this year's Grammys, and her vocals are undeniably something great. I can't wait to see what she does next.

— Kiah Welsh (@SimplyKiah)

Sam Roberts, 'Medicine' (By Divine Right cover)

By Divine Right has been a staple in the Canadian music scene since forming in 1989. Now that they’re nearing the three-decade mark in their career, the Toronto rock band is finally getting honoured with an all-star tribute album. Born Ruffians, Jim Guthrie, the Elwins, Shotgun Jimmie and more will appear on I Want Light: A Tribute to By Divine Right to cover some of the band’s best songs over the years.

Below is Montreal artist Sam Roberts’s take on By Divine Right's 2001 song “Medicine.” While the original version is a riotous whirlwind of guitars and crashing drums, Roberts’s cover is more subdued, but no less wild. In place of the fuzzed-out elements is a psychedelic mélange of swirling synths and drum machines — an electronic counterpart that is just as delightful. Download the full album for free on Feb. 12. Listen to the song here

— Melody Lau (@melodylamb)

Leon Bridges, 'Here In My Arms'

Leon Bridges returns to the Sam Cooke sweet water well for this standout track from this week’s reissue of his debut album, Coming Home. Sung in the 26-year-old’s honeyed, velvety tone, the classic "slow" retells the ugly duckling myth, coated in the type of inoffensive nostalgia he's been propounding since Coming Home broke into the Billboard top five. It's the type of track you put on the turntable at the end of a hard day (or the finale of an Enchantment Under the Sea prom), taking Bridges up on his ever more attractive dulcet offer.

— Jonathan Dekel (@jondekel)

Jenn Grant, 'Stranger in the Night'

Hints of darkness abound in Grant's relatively sweet-sounding song — a tumble of clarinet and a hush of flute retreat and advance like an animal stalking its prey — and the video, premiering today, affirms our worst fears about fairy tales, the things that seem too good to be true. The imagery is startling and unsettling, but the song is gorgeous. With the video premiere comes a new tour for Grant, which you can check out here.

— Andrea Warner (@_AndreaWarner)

Nancy Pants, 'w.o.r.l.d.'

I've been thirsting for a song like this; the kind you want to play on repeat, as loud as the speakers will allow. The kind of song that forces you into a trance, that makes you dance around your room until you fall down on the floor, exhausted, overjoyed by the effect a song — a really great song — can have on you. Equal parts apocalyptic and heroic, when you listen to singer Ohara Hale sing the words of "w.o.r.l.d.," you are made to feel as though you could follow her into battle and end up victorious. I don't know about you, but I need that kind of bravado these days. Listen to the song here

— Julia Caron (@cbcjulia)

Sarah Neufeld, 'Where the Light Comes In'

When I first heard the opening notes of this song I said, aloud to no one, "Wow. That's lovely." The striking sound of Neufeld's violin echoing, mixed in with the sound of the room was just that. Ninety seconds later, when the first low notes snuck in I said to myself, "Oh, my." I stopped clicking around Facebook, writing; whatever it was that I was doing ceased to be important. The only thing I needed was to know where this piece of music was going.

I sat there, breathing in time with every bowed note. As the final ominous note was struck and then lingered, all I could say, again, aloud to no one was, "Holy God."

Then I woke up and I wrote this all down. OK, now it's your turn. See where it takes you.

— Judith Lynch (@CBCJudith)


Highasakite, 'Someone Who'll Get It'

Highasakite is back at it with new track "Someone Who'll Get it," off the Norwegian band’s yet to be named 2016 release. I was lucky enough to be introduced to Highasakite in 2015 when the five-piece opened on a slew of concert dates for Of Monsters and Men. Since then, the band’s 2014 record, Silent Treatment, has been on my record player more than any other album I own. This new track takes the band in a slightly different direction, with a larger production sound than we're used to from them. Whatever the case, vocalist Ingrid Helene still has the chops that will make you stop immediately in your tracks (pun intended) and pay attention to whatever she's singing.

— Matthew Fisher (@MattRFisher)


Henry Wagons, 'Santa Fe'

An instant free track when you pre-order Wagons's new album, After What I Did Last Night..., "Santa Fe" at first seems like it's presenting a softer side than the rabble-rousing Australian country-rocker's past efforts. But just like the abandoned road trip that inspired the song itself, there are a ton of sharp turns, slow fades and a blistering end that's all fuzz, flame and accelerant before a harsh, sudden stop. — AW

6 Pack Band, 'Sab Rab De Bande'

This past weekend, the Indian supreme court decided it would continue to debate Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a colonial-era law that criminalizes homosexuals and other sexual minorities. The decision has been called a small victory for LGBTQ activists in the country. Although India has a large LGBTQ community that has recently become increasingly vocal about demanding their rights, there continues to be a lot of social stigma around coming out and living openly in an otherwise conservative society. Which makes India’s first ever transgender band, called the 6 Pack Band, pretty remarkable. The band is made up of six artists who identify as hijras: eunuchs who usually live on the fringes of Indian society. Their latest song, "Sab Rab De Bande," featuring celebrated Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam, borrows from a Sikh religious text to convey the message of equality.

— Aparita Bhandari (@aparita)

Anna Wise, 'Precious Possession'

Around this time next week, we'll know how many Grammy Awards Kendrick Lamar will have won for his critically acclaimed album To Pimp a Butterfly. As Lamar leads the nominations with a total of 11, it's kind of inconceivable he won't take home a few trophies that night. And one of Lamar's key collaborators on that record was vocalist Anna Wise. Her work with Lamar actually precedes TPAB, as she provided vocals on tracks like "Money Trees" and "Real" from good kid m.a.a.d. city as well as "These Walls" and "Institutionalized" on his latest release. Incidentally, Wise, a member of experimental pop duo Sonnymoon was directly influential in Lamar titling To Pimp A Butterfly, but with "Precious Possession" Wise is ready to assume centre stage all on her own. The track is garnering comparisons to James Blake, but Wise elaborates on the versatility of her work with Lamar, alternating between yearning, high-pitched vocals and gravelly voice-overs over oscillating beatscapes.

— Del Cowie (@vibesandstuff)

Beyoncé, 'Formation'

It seemed impossible to make a list of songs you need to hear without including Beyoncé's video for her new track, "Formation," which dropped 24 hours before she graced the stage of the Super Bowl halftime show. But everyone's heard it, right? If not, two words: Bey slays. (And for a deeper dive into what it's all about, Syreeta McFadden over at the Guardian has lots for you).

— Holly Gordon (@hollygowritely)

Editor's note: strong language warning.