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Ariana Grande, Esperanza Spalding, Plants and Animals, 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.

Megan Bonnell, 'Unknown Legend'

Covering a Canadian icon is risky business, but Bonnell's thoughtful take on this classic Neil Young tune is soft and ragged, wistful and shiny. It's also a starkly revealing journey thanks to the great instrumental shifts from piano to guitar to shimmery percussion.

— Andrea Warner (@_AndreaWarner)


Esperanza Spalding, 'One'

Portland's Esperanza Spalding is a force of nature. Her spectacular singing combined with a proficiency on bass rarely seen in popular music leads to one of the most exciting musicians working today. Often, female musicians are broadly compared to Joni Mitchell for being songwriters. Especially if they are folk musicians; especially if they are Canadian. Forget all of that. Spalding's "One," full of groovy rock rhythms, feels closer to Mitchell's "Help Me" than anything a Canadian musician has accomplished in years. Spalding’s new album, Emily’s D+Evolution, came out March 4.

— Alex Redekop (@alexredekop)

Harrison feat. Clairmont the Second, 'It’s Okay, I Promise'

The latest song from Last Gang signee Harrison features teenage wunderkind MC Clairmont the Second. Given the prolific output of these two artists over the last year or so, a collaboration between them is exciting in an auditory context alone, but the duo takes it to the next level with the song's accompanying video. Directed by Scott Cudmore, the near seven-minute clip finds Clairmont the Second beginning in a confessional circle of sorts before unfolding into a series of head-scratchingly abstract yet highly engaging scenes. For Clairmont the Second, this song is about the blossoming and eventual dissolution of a high school relationship conveyed down to granular text message detail. It's easy to forget — hearing his intricate rhymes and mature delivery — that the wise-beyond-his-years MC is still of high school age. While Harrison is barely out of his teens himself, he sonically takes on the role of the consoling older brother, gently guiding the proceedings with a melodic innocence that mirrors Clairmont's denial-laden jilted rhymes.

– Del Cowie (@vibesandstuff)

Ariana Grande, 'Be Alright'

Ariana Grande is gearing up for the release of her new album,Dangerous Woman (due out in May), and so far, she’s been two for two with her singles. First, she gave us the slow-burning Bond bid title track and shortly after that came the even better, uplifting number “Be Alright.” The spiritual cousin to one of my favourite songs of 2015, Jamie xx’s “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” Grande’s new single is a marimba-backed, finger-snapping dance number that ensures us of just as many good times. "But the hard times are golden/ ’cause they all lead to better days," she sings. "We’re gonna be alright." Whether you’re voguing your way through the track or simply walking around, confidently swinging your high ponytail in the air, “Be Alright” is a feel-good track for the record books.

— Melody Lau (@melodylamb)

Agents of Ishq, 'A Lavni About Consent'

When you grow up on a steady diet of Bollywood songs, the idea of consent is more or less an alien concept. Sure, things have progressed since the time blooming flowers and mating birds were used as stand-­ins for romantic encounters. These days, leading actors and actresses shimmy and smooch on screen, and sexy item numbers are performed by Bollywood starlets claiming to be in charge of their own sexuality. Despite that and many female­-centric movies, Bollywood’s idea of romantic songs continues to involve a woman on the receiving end of male attention. Enter Agents of Ishq, a “multi­media project about sex, love and desire ... in India.” Their latest music video presents “A Lavni About Consent,” which takes a traditional Indian folk­form to explain the complexities of consent.

— Aparita Bhandari (@aparita)

Solidisco, 'Get in Love'

Need a mid-week pick-me-up? Here it is in neo-disco form with Solidisco's feel-good track "Get in Love." Lots of synth sounds, a great hook and danceable beats make this song a happy go-to for the start of spring.

— Nicolle Weeks (@nikkerized)


Milk & Bone feat. Deebs, 'Poison'

Milk & Bone have been on my radar for a while now, and their debut album, Little Mourning, was all I listened to last summer. The duo's beautiful harmonies find a way to keep me hooked every time. Their new song, "Poison," is a beautiful synth-pop dream that still relates to their older material while sounding like it comes from a completely different group. The song features Toronto producer Deebs, whose low, haunting voice is heard at the beginning of the track. If this song is any indication as to what Milk & Bone's new album will sound like, then it's going to be a smash hit.

— Jessica Maxwell (@jstephmax)

Plants and Animals, 'No Worries Gonna Find Us'

The second single from Plants and Animals’ upcoming album, “No Worries Gonna Find Us” is a breezy, roaming track — the perfect song to shake that winter dust off and get yourself shined up for summer. Waltzed in from the Rumbling (out April 29 via Secret City Records) will be the Montreal trio’s fourth full-length and, with it, Plants and Animals also gives us a new motto for 2016: “No worries gonna be the boss of my mind.”

— Holly Gordon (@hollygowritely)