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 globe 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 fifth instalment, NPR Music's Stephen Thompson, 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 you should have 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, July 7.
My pick is a fun, charismatic garage-pop band from Nashville called Bully. Bully's first album doesn't even last half an hour, and it's full of these spiky, fizzy little speed-ball songs. They sound like long-lost hits from ’90s college radio, and I mean that in the best possible way. There's a confessional streak to the lyrics, but the prevailing quality in Bully's music is fun — a sense of playfulness that still gets laced with aggression. This is driving-with-the-windows-down, punch-you-in-the-face rock ’n’ roll, and I just love it.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve bent an ear to Melbourne artist Yeo (pronounced “Yo”) as he’s continually refined his style and played to his strengths: bright pop sounds, a great lead vocal and an understanding of great hooks. “Quiet Achiever” is perfectly titled, as he’s now nailed it with a song that travels through tropical steel drums and pop songlines before an AFL footy siren (yes, really) signals a complete flip, and the song rolls out of the room through a completely different door from which it arrived. Very cool song.
My song choice this month is by Vancouver band Yukon Blonde. An amazing indie rock unit that has honed its harmonious guitar-rock sound over many years of relentless touring. Their songs feature plenty of feel-good throwbacks to eras gone by, specifically the late ’60s through the ’70s. Yukon Blonde has recently released a new album called On Blonde that boasts an expanded lineup and an expanded sound, which you can hear on this great, swaggering, mid-tempo rock tune, "I Wanna Be Your Man." Think Electric Light Orchestra, the Sweet or Tom Petty as your musical reference points for this one.
For more than a decade, God is an Astronaut has been making music and undertaking lengthy tours that have seen the band play shows in Siberia, the U.S., Italy and countless other destinations. The band bases itself in the picturesque Glen of the Downs area of Wicklow in Ireland, and it certainly draws inspiration from the surrounding landscape. Last month saw God is an Astronaut release its seventh, and strongest, album, Helios/Erebus. Tracks from it have been a permanent fixture on my show ever since!
To give you an idea of what the band’s music sounds like, picture a Viking ship racing toward the shore of a land that it's about to conquer. Think of the bloodthirsty war cries, the crashing waves, the fury and the fear. Now imagine that as music.
Nothing beats the thrill of discovery the first time you hear an artist who is going to be important to you. That first track mainlines itself right to your heart, your head and perhaps your hips. British-Canadian Fiona Bevan did it to me on her new album, Talk to Strangers. Is there a voice lighter? Brighter? A butterfly kiss vibrato. But wait! There's more: she really knows how to write a song. Don't let “Little Things,” the hit she wrote with Ed Sheeran for One Direction, fool you; armed with her uke or her guitar, Bevan achieves air.
A lot of the music I support on the radio is international, but a lot comes courtesy of BBC Introducing, which is a pan-BBC initiative that allows brand new music from every nook and cranny of the U.K. to be heard by as many people as possible. This month I’d like to share hotly tipped Bristol duo Honne with you, who recently performed at our huge BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend festival in the U.K. — Europe’s biggest free festival. So whilst Foo Fighters, Taylor Swift and Florence and the Machine played the main stage across the weekend, Honne was one of the bands that had a great gig on the BBC Introducing stage. Drawing in a big crowd and performing a set of future anthems, this is one of their finest, “Coastal Love.”
What is your favourite discovery from our international edition of Songs You Need to Hear?
Find me on Twitter: @hollygowritely