Each week at CBC Music, our staff members pick a list of songs you need to hear, writing passionate words with the hopes that you’ll add said artist to your playlist. Once a month, though, we do something different.
This time around, public broadcasters from across the world weigh in on those must-hear songs. NPR Music, BBC Radio 1, Australia’s Triple J, Ireland’s RTÉ and CBC hosts give an international voice toSongs You Need to Hear, choosing a song from an artist you shouldn’t miss.
In this second instalment, NPR affiliate KCRW’s Jason Bentley, BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, triple j's Zan Rowe, RTÉ's Dan Hegarty and CBC's own Grant Lawrence and Laurie Brown make a case for six artists who should be on your radar.
To hear some of these voices make the case on-air, tune in to Radio 2 Drive at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7.
I still love being completely floored by artists who’ve seemingly come from nowhere. Such is the case of the duo Vallis Alps, who comprise of David in Seattle, and vocalist Parissa in Australia’s capital city of Canberra (no last names listed). I found them via our triple j Unearthed website and community. Intricate, beautiful production that rolls and a vocal line that dances effortlessly between the beats; that chorus will hook you completely. It’s love at first listen.
We’ve had all sorts of great artist break through from BBC Introducingover the years, with some of the bigger names you might know including Jake Bugg and Florence & the Machine. I’m gonna give you a hot new tip now from one of the BBC Introducing artists I’ve been playing a lot on the show: this is Sundara Karma with "Loveblood."
Being in L.A. gives us the advantage of having some of the best established artists, and most promising rising stars right in our own backyard, and the new artist Borns is definitely one of the latter. This project is the creation of Garrett Borns, who was originally from western Michigan, but has since called L.A. his home. In November of last year, Borns released the first EP, titled Candy, which he wrote while living in a treehouse in the storied canyons of L.A. and Malibu.
The standout song was "10,000 Emerald Pools," a dreamy synth-pop track with layered harmonies and the eternal sound of L.A. summers driving underneath. Garrett himself has said that he intended to release the song in October because it was so quintessential L.A., where it’s seemingly sunny all the time. The title of the song, "10,000 Emerald Pools," is actually the address of a friend’s parents’ home in Las Vegas. Whether in Michigan, Los Angeles or Las Vegas, Borns is poised to be a big success, and this song has got us all here at KCRW really excited for his future.
This could be the soundtrack to the twilight hours at a summer festival, or just something to obsess for the rest of the year. "Donegal" by Meltybrains? (yes, there's supposed to be a question mark at the end of their name) is one of those tunes that has become a fixture on my show, The Alternative, of late.
Play it alongside a classic like "Pacific State" by 808 State, or a modern-day classic like FKA Twigs' "Closer," and it sounds right at home. Meltybrains? claim that they come from the fictional Irish city of Meltybrook, but if you can keep a secret, I'll discreetly tell you that they're from Dublin!
"Donegal" is a really easy tune to like straight away, and it's one that always gets an instant reaction when I play it on the show. That says just about everything you need to know about it. Take a listen, you'll more than likely love it.
You may know Kathryn Calder from her role in the Canadian indie rock supergroup the New Pornographers, where she plays keyboards alongside her uncle, lead singer Carl Newman. What you might not know is that Calder also has a string of beautiful solo albums. The songs are nowhere near as bombastic as the New Pornographers; instead, they rely on a stripped-down, ethereal pop sound built around Calder's opera-trained voice. Her new self-titled album, which is her third, is out soon, and this is a beautiful first song to share from it.
Stream Kathryn Calder's new album in advance this week via our First Play.
This track has been playing a lot at my place. I can't wait for the whole album, Empire of Time, to drop here in Canada on April 14. This track, "We Stared at the World," ticks all my boxes: it's dreamy, beautiful, with killer production and electronic effects — a great drop, too! And, it mentions Canada in February, which, if you've never had the luck to experience that: trust me, it's a special mindset. Listen to the song here.
Full disclosure: Find the Others is Andy Sheppard, who created The Signal on CBC Radio 2 with me. I don't care, I love this music.
Stream Find the Others' new album in advance this week via our First Play.
Listen to Jason Bentley, Huw Stephens and Grant Lawrence on Radio 2 Drive for the radio version of Songs You Need to Hear at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7. Tune in online here.