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Kelly Clarkson, Ria Mae, Adria Kain, Allie X, 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.

Sarah Toussaint-Leveillé, ‘La guitomane’

Sarah Toussaint-Leveillé's new album,La Mort est un Jardin Sauvage(Death is a Wild Garden), is equal parts poetic and playful, but this track stands out as a heartbreaker. Socalled's Josh Dolgin produced this treasure, and he is the one tickling the ivories of the beautiful wurlitzer featured here. In "La guitomane," Toussaint-Leveillé sings from the perspective of a woman torn between her love of making music and her all-consuming love of a woman, one that has suppressed her creative spirit as an unfortunate side effect. If her beautiful voice hadn't already broken your heart, Toussaint-Leveillé’s repeated whisper-soft goodbyes will. "Je t’aime mais je suis soumise à l’envie d’aller": "I love you but I have to give in to the desire to leave."

— Julia Caron (@cbcjulia)

Mitski, ‘Your Best American Girl’

In relationships, there can be compromises, but sometimes two people simply don’t make a good fit no matter how much one or both parties try to mould themselves into the “ideal” partner. It’s a shattering realization, one that’s spectacularly ignited by the crushing blows of guitar riffs on the chorus of singer Mitski Miyawaki’s latest track, “Your Best American Girl.” On the gorgeous and heartbreaking track, from her upcoming new album Puberty 2 (out June 17), Mitski channels an intensely personal experience — hear more in this NPR interview — into a universally calamitous feeling that builds with each verse to the penultimate declaration: “And you’re all all-American boy/ I guess I couldn’t help trying to be the best American girl.”

— Melody Lau (@melodylamb)


Sheer Mag, 'Nobody's Baby'

Defiant, vulnerable bombast built on a backbone of agency and self-worth? Oh hells yes, this is the song I've been waiting for, and lead singer Christina Halladay is a snarling angel in human form: "You don't know just what I'm worth/ I'm nobody's baby/ nobody's girl, oh no!"

— Andrea Warner (@_AndreaWarner)

Allie X, 'Old Habits Die Hard'

Ontario-born, L.A.-based Allie X counts Katy Perry and Grimes among her fans — and you should be next. Perhaps you were already won over by her 2015 release, COLLXTION I, which featured the Perry-approved "Catch;" maybe you looked into this latest single of hers after Grimes recently name-checked her in a tweeted list of "sick female producers" who deserve more attention. Regardless, turn up the volume on "Old Habits Die Hard" for a hefty dose of catchy synth-pop and look forward to a forthcoming followup to her first LP, expected some time later this year.

— Emma Godmere (@godmere)


Ria Mae, 'Gold'

Ria Mae released the video for her newest single, "Gold," last Friday, and it's still on loop four days later. A followup to the Halifax singer's "Clothes Off," this track isn't about the dance jam hook-up, but instead the fallout. "Remember when I was gold?" Ria Mae sings, as she pleads with her girlfriend post-fight. There's an element of fantasy to this one (Ria Mae plays an undercover cop to her girlfriend's criminal mastermind), but we've all been here: "Slippin' out of my hands/ I still don't understand/ why you're gone." The chorus will earworm its way into your head in no time.

— Holly Gordon (@hollygowritely)

Corinne Bailey Rae, 'Been to the Moon'

It has been six years since Corinne Bailey Rae's last album, but she serves justice with her latest single, "Been to the Moon." This song is sonically different from Rae's earlier music, but authentic and beautiful. Rae's lyrics talk about the various lengths lovers go for one another in a relationship: "I've been to the moon so gently/ I've been where you are, God help me/ I've been to the moon and stars for you/ When I was yours just to prove that you're true." The British singer's upcoming album, The Heart Speaks in Whispers, is scheduled for release May 13. Stay tuned!

— Kiah Welsh (@simplykiah)

Marian Hill, ‘Down’

Marian Hill is a Philadelphia-based duo featuring the vocal talents of Samantha Gongol and production of Jeremy Lloyd. In its opening bars, “Down” is seemingly sparse, with clear, clean vocals, a repetitive piano phrase and simple rhyming quatrains. But wait for it: the beat. At first it appears as a surprising interjection to the quiet melody and later steps into the spotlight, creating a unique blend of smooth jazz and head-nodding hip-hop.

— Joan Chung (@notjoanchung)


Kelly Clarkson, 'Piece By Piece'

Leave it to Kelly Clarkson to not only be the first ever winner onAmerican Idol but the most commercially successful Idol winner ever. Leave it to Kelly Clarkson to make her final appearance on the final season of American Idol singing "Piece By Piece," a song from her latest album of the same name. Leave it to Kelly Clarkson to infuse all of the emotions that come with being pregnant with her second child, singing a song she wrote while pregnant with her first child, about growing up with an absent father — all while her first child runs around backstage in the same hallways Clarkson frequented when she was 19, before her life changed forever. And leave it to Kelly Clarkson to use her voice to dropkick all of your emotions right through your chest, leaving them to well up in your eyes where they finally, slowly, make their escape.

— Judith Lynch (@CBCJudith)

Lights, ‘Meteorites’

Lights' medium-paced electro-pop track “Meteorites” was released on her 2014 album, Little Machines. "Meteorites" wasn't a single from the album, but in November 2015, Lights announced that she'd be releasing an acoustic version of Little Machines and incorporated an acoustic version of “Meteorites” into her set. It looks like that acoustic album is now on its way: Lights released her colourful acoustic “Meteorites” video last week via pop-culture magazine Nylon.

— Nicolle Weeks (@nikkerized)

Lori Yates, ‘Shiloh’

Lori Yates is from Toronto and, well, she's not new. If you were trawling around Toronto in the late ‘80s when Blue Rodeo was packing bars playing country music, Yates was packing them in, too. And then she went down to Nashville, got nominated for a Juno, toured with Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakam. But the success that came to her friends never necessarily arrived at Yates’s doorstep. It’s never stopped her, though, and when you listen to Yates it’s as if you've been flipping through the channels and finally something strikes you — a line of dialogue — and you just stay with it the whole time. It's time Lori Yates got the attention she deserves: take a listen to this.

— Tom Power (@tompowercbc)

Adria Kain, ‘Colours’

Toronto's Adria Kain has been justifiably picking up accolades for a while now, like appearing on CBC Music's 25 under 25 list last year. With the release of her new three-song EP, Reverse Psychology, last week, don't expect that to stop any time soon. From that album, "Colours" finds Kain lending her effortlessly impressive vocals to Guelph, Ont., beatmaker Elaquent's Dilla-esque, off-kilter beat. The whole thing is over in two minutes, so get ready to keep replaying. If you are in Toronto, Kain will be playing a Toronto International Women's Day concert tonight on March 8 with fellow hometown acts Tanika Charles and LAL.

— Del Cowie (@vibesandstuff)


Lucius, ‘Madness’

Any chance I get to chat about this band I'll take it. “Madness” is off their new record, Good Grief (you can stream it on CBC Music here), which comes out this Friday. Soaring harmonies, with a cool string accompaniment and backing section that keeps the track chugging along, is just the start of what this band can pull off. I highly recommend seeing Lucius live for the full effect: watching lead duo Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig pull off their incredible harmonies while drumming or playing piano is probably the best thing I've seen at a show in a really long time.

— Matt Fisher (@MattRFisher)

Weaves, ‘One More’

It may have taken the Toronto buzz band two years to put together its self-titled debut, but if there is any audible lethargy, it’s certainly not found on the album’s first single. “One More” attacks your ears with urgency. Frontwoman Jasmyn Burke arrives with a shriek unheard since Karen O shattered glass ceilings on the Lower East Side, and the song takes its cues from there. Angular guitars lacerate a pounding, post-punk rhythm section, breaking slightly before Burke sustains a final note that boils blood. At just over two minutes, “One More” is a track that gives you musical whiplash in the best way possible.  

— Jonathan Dekel (@jondekel)