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9 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.

Norma MacDonald, 'Company'

No, this isn't some recently uncovered tape from a dusty treasure trove of lost country classics. But it is beautiful, and Norma MacDonald's liquid silver voice and lonesome, tender lyrics are the stuff of tear-soaked nights full of moonshine and moonlight. Rather than give us another sad music video to unspool our hearts, MacDonald and crew give us puppets. Why puppets? Frankly, I partly think it's just because I'm that lucky. I love puppets. But what director Daniel Ledwell and puppeteer Jenn Grant (yes, that Jenn Grant) achieve here is emotionally complex and wistful without veering into maudlin in the way one might be tempted with pesky human subjects.

— Andrea Warner (@_AndreaWarner)

Blood Orange feat. Empress Of, ‘Best to You’

Some of Blood Orange’s best collaborative efforts — and there have been a lot over the past few years — have been with women. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Blood Orange mastermind Dev Hynes opened up about his proclivity for enlisting women’s voices on his records: “I think women are so powerful. Not just in the fact that I genuinely prefer female voices — that is a big part of it — but there’s also a particular power that women can put across that men just can’t.”

Enter “Best to You,” a highlight from Hynes’ latest Blood Orange release, Freetown Sound. The track, which features a moving cello part, nimble rhythms and most importantly the voice of Empress Of’s Lorely Rodriguez, is celebratory in its movement but uses that momentum to sidestep the real heartbreak at its centre. “I can’t be the girl you want but I can be the thing you throw away,” Rodriguez sings, knowing this relationship isn’t built to last as Hynes coos questions like “Do you really want to?” next to her. It’s simple, direct and wholly effective, showing off yet another amazing product of Hynes’ collaboration with women.

— Melody Lau (@melodylamb)

Listen via Spotify.

BadBadNotGood feat. Charlotte Day Wilson, ‘In Your Eyes’

There’s little this band can do wrong, but there’s also little they can do more right than to collaborate with Toronto’s own Charlotte Day Wilson. Her soulful, wistful vocals delivered over their smoky, moody brand of jazz is a most heavenly match. I put this on last week and have not heard anything else since; it’s hypnotizing. Look for the rest of the album, IV, on Friday, July 8.

— Amer Alkhatib (@ameralkhatib)


Busty and the Bass, ‘Stages (Don’t Know Why)’

This soulful track comes from Busty and the Bass’s new EP, Lift, which was released July 1 and forms the basis of a busy summer concert tour of Quebec and Ontario. This is the group’s first foray into self-production and judging by the easy flow of “Stages (Don’t Know Why),” it’s a role that comes naturally to them. There’s a welcome chill here that brings together the funk, electro-soul and hip-hop elements the band is already becoming famous for. (Call me obsessed with the new Ghostbusters movie, but I hear subtle quotes from Ray Parker Jr.’s original theme song in this new track. Amirite?)

— Robert Rowat (@rkhr)

Adria Kain, ‘Sunrise’

Following up her Reverse Psychology EP from earlier this year, Toronto singer Adria Kain — who landed on CBC Music's 25 Canadian musicians under 25 you need to know list earlier this year — has released this calming heliocentric ode. Kain has already impressed with her vocal talents on previous tracks, but her voice is front and centre on this stripped-down track. A sinewy guitar and ambient keyboards provide the desired atmospheric effect as Kain's impressive vocal range and gospel-tinged delivery build a melodic vocal refrain into lyrics that express heartfelt and vulnerable devotion.

— Del F. Cowie (@vibesandstuff)


Angel Olsen, ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’

Screw consequences! Angel Olsen is finished with your hangups. In her new single, the singer laces up her roller skates, adjusts her silver wig and repeatedly demands that you "Shut up, kiss me, hold me tight." It's the first full track from her upcoming fourth album, My Woman, and is just over three minutes of summery infatuation. "Um, do I need to give more attitude, or?" she asks, as the video ends. Nailed it.

— Holly Gordon (@hollygowritely)

Olsson feat. Mapei, ‘Hold On’

"Hold On" is the debut single from Stockholm’s latest contribution to electro-pop, Olsson (formerly of Fibes, Oh Fibes!). A collaboration with Mapei, the track is persistent in its head-nodding catchiness, but it’s not a throwaway pop tune. Its protagonist could be anyone in these confusing times, and Christian Olsson tries to keep us going with an inspirational anthem. "Hold On" is “a battle song about when you're struggling to find purpose and meaning when the world around you is falling apart,” Olsson says on his Facebook page. “It’s about when you thought you lost the fight, but you find a new way out.”  

— Nicolle Weeks (@nikkerized)

James Vincent McMorrow, 'Rising Water'

The Irish singer-songwriter returns this week with new music — and a new musical direction. But here's what hasn't changed: that gentle, beautiful falsetto. What's new this time around is the amount of danciness the track offers, so much so that McMorrow wrote a letter to his fans discussing many things (including his lack of confidence) but most importantly he wrote: "There is no reason why dancing and heavy-heartedness need to be mutually exclusive things." Whatever the case, McMorrow presents us with a beautifully catchy track that's bound to be a hit when he starts his new tour in October. You can pre-order his new record, We Move, now through Dine Alone Records.

— Matt Fisher (@MattRFisher)

Sara Watkins, 'Young in All the Wrong Ways'

The concept of possibility plays a big role in Sara Watkins's new album, Young in all the Wrong Ways. She philosophizes on the likelihood of big life events taking place, based on where she currently stands in her own life. The title track digs deep into this by saying that she has grown into an adult and now looks back on past events, understanding that maturing can help you see the fault in your younger ways. Even if you don't know Watkins's music, you will hear the fact that she has grown as a musician, whether it's in her turns of phrase or ability to let a certain lyric ring out. This is a beautiful song, housed within a gorgeous record.

— Kerry Martin (@OhHiKerry)