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CBC, NPR, BBC, Triple J and RTÉ choose the songs you need to hear right now

Editorial Staff

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 MusicBBC Radio 1Australia’s Triple JIreland’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 third instalment, NPR Music's Ann Powers, 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, May 5.

Host: Ann PowersNPR Music
Song you need to hear: "Coming Home," Leon Bridges

When you hear the song "Coming Home" by the young Fort Worth, Texas, musician Leon Bridges, you probably are going to think it comes from the mid­-20th century. It definitely has that Sam Cooke vibe — the stroll rhythm, the gospel inflections, that melody that soars right to heaven and right into your soul.

But in fact, Bridges is only 25 and he’s been working with the psychedelic garage-rock band White Denim on a new album that will be coming out later this year. The reason that Bridges can make this retro soul music sound so fresh is his precision, which comes from his experience as a dancer — it’s what he was doing before he decided to take up the guitar, explore the history of American music and put his own imprint on it.

Now he’s one of the most buzzed-about musicians in America. I think we’re going to hear a lot more from this guy.

Host: Zan Rowe, triple j, Mornings
Song you need to hear: "Remember," Feki

I’ve been crushing hard on this new song from 19-year-old producer Feki. Hailing from the sunny city of Brisbane, I found this gem on ourUnearthed website, where Feki has been uploading his music since mid-2014. "Remember" is his best offering so far, and nails that somewhat difficult goal of making truly heartfelt, emotional electronica. This song will make you swoon.

Host: Grant LawrenceCBC Music
Song you need to hear: "Hold Your Fire," Gay Nineties

One of my tests for a great song is whether the melody pops up in my head days or weeks after I first hear it. Such is the case with hot Vancouver band Gay Nineties and their high-energy new single, "Hold Your Fire." I had to dig around to remember what band had that really catchy chorus with the "Hold Your Fire" refrain and the guitar riff so searing hot that you could fry bacon off of it, but I found it, and I’m sharing it with you now.

Gay Nineties have been compared to Arctic Monkeys, the Kooks and even what the Zombies might sound like now, if they weren't playing the casino circuit. Whatever the comparison, Gay Nineties rock with a swagger that is all too rare these days. Here's hoping this one will be stuck in your head for days or weeks to come.

Host: Dan Hegarty, RTÉ 2fm/2XM, The Alternative
Song you need to hear: "You Want the Night," Sleep Thieves

Sleep Thieves have featured on my show a lot over the last few years. They have the essentials in their genetics that combine to make a truly excellent band. In 2014, they released their second album, You Want the Night, for which I had lofty expectations. It easily exceeded those, and made the kind of statement that every band strives to make.

Just ahead of their forthcoming tour, Sleep Thieves have unleashed the title track of the album as their new single. Along with it comes a video that you may not want to watch if you're planning on being home alone any night in the foreseeable future! Call them electro-pop if you must, but what Sleep Thieves do goes a little deeper than that.

Host: Huw Stephens, BBC Radio 1
Song you need to hear: "Turning Back Around," Rhodes

I do the late-night shift, playing all sorts of music on BBC Radio 1 including loads of music courtesy of BBC Introducing, our new music initiative to find the best new music from across the U.K. That’s how we first heard this artist, after being supported on his local BBC Introducing show: his name is Rhodes, he’s a couple of singles "old" and we think he’s got an incredible voice.

He’s the latest to play the Radio 1 Piano Sessions joining Chilly Gonzales, Soak, Aquilo and Little Simz, which you can watch on theRadio 1 YouTube channel. This is Rhodes' new single, "Turning Back Around."


Host: Laurie Brown, CBC Radio's The Signal
Song you need to hear: "When That Far Shore Disappears," the Henrys

Toronto-based the Henrys are not very productive. They’ve been around for about 25 years, yet have only produced six albums. But every release, every whisper of an opportunity to see them play live has me in a twitter. That they have teamed up with one of my favourite singers is a double plus: Gregory Hoskins has a voice that can go anywhere, with an astonishing emotional range to match.  

For all the beautiful, warm tones you will hear on their upcoming album, Quiet Industry, the lyrics demand equal time. The Henrys, in spite of mostly being an instrumental band to date, are exquisite wordsmiths. These songs are romantic, intimate and full of big thoughts. Do your head and heart a favour: let them chew on the Henrys’ Quiet Industry, out on June 11. Get a sneak peek with this track, "When That Far Shore Disappears."

Listen to Ann Powers, 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, May 5. Tune in online here.

What is your favourite discovery from our international edition of Songs You Need To Hear? Let us know in the comments below.

Find me on Twitter: @hollygowritely