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Your Boy Tony Braxton to Jenn Grant: 9 songs you need to hear this week

Holly Gordon

Each week, staff from CBC Music, Radio 2, Radio 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 via @CBCMusic what catches your ear, or if you have a new song you just can't stop playing.

John Legend feat. Brittany Howard, ‘Darkness and Light’

John Legend has returned with his fifth album, and it does not disappoint. The standout title track is a soul banger featuring the unmistakable sound of Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes. These two are a vocal match made in heaven. It is one hell of song. From the first hit of the snare drum you can feel that you are about to be sucked into a vacuum of pure, unbridled yearning backed by a stone-cold groove. You are there, in the gut of the city. Seedy motel, two lovers, begging forgiveness as they melt into each other with an intensity that is almost unbearable and as equally addictive. The song builds to a climax and then comes to an end in a way that leaves you breathless — and wanting more.

— Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe (@MissAngelineTW)

Your Boy Tony Braxton, ‘Kick’

“Kick” is nostalgia at its best. From the opening drum beat to the Dionne Farris-inspired guitar riff, the entire package is a pitch-perfect homage to the awesomeness that was '90s R&B — musically and visually. In the video, the costumes and choreography are wickedly on point. If you ever busted a move on somebody’s dance floor at some point in the '90s, this is for you.

— Judith Lynch (@CBCJudith)

Of Monsters and Men, ‘We Sink’

Of Monsters and Men released a video for its track "We Sink" from the band's 2015 LP, Beneath the Skin. Although not a new track by any means, the band linked up with the International Committee of the Red Cross to help raise money for the refugee crisis in countries such as Syria, Yemen and Iraq, which have seen millions of people vacating their homes due to ongoing wars. In producing the video, Of Monsters and Men reached out to Red Cross Iceland, its home organization, which connected the bandmates with refugees in their own country to be featured in the video. With Christmas less than 20 days away, it's nice to see a band reminding people where some much needed money should go.

— Matt Fisher (@MattRFisher)

Jenn Grant, ‘Galaxies’

Jenn Grant brings us good tidings in the form of "Galaxies," a sweeping near-ballad that draws on a constellation of different sounds, grounded by an assortment of keys and woven together by Grant's almost lilting, always reassuring voice. For longtime fans, there's a whisper of her 2009 record Echoes (a personal favourite), when it comes to instrumentation — but this time, the layering and diversity of these sounds is more exciting than ever. It's a next, natural, gorgeous step for Grant, who's expected to drop her sixth solo record, Paradise, in March.

— Emma Godmere (@godmere)


Banfi, ‘Happy When You Go’

The three-piece rock outfit from Leytonstone, London, released only its second-ever song since first announcing its existence in April 2015, even though it's already picked up quite the steam. The band signed to Communion Records (Bear's Den, Catfish and the Bottlemen), then spent most of 2016 recording its debut album. With "Happy When You Go," you get vocal vibes of Alt-J mixed in with a gentle version U.K. rock band Foals. All in all, it's an easy listen and makes me reminiscent of summers past. — MF

A Tribe Called Red, ‘The Virus’

“We are not a conquered people,” Saul Williams defiantly proclaims on “The Virus,” one of the standout tracks from A Tribe Called Red’s standout album, We are the Halluci Nation. It’s a phrase that’s unfortunately poignant in times like these, in which the Standing Rock Sioux First Nations in North Dakota are forced to physically stand in the path of an oil company threatening their human right to clean water (a battle that, for now, seems to have been won). “The Virus” is one-part polemic against the past 500 years of colonialism, but also one-part hope for the future. You couldn’t ask for a stronger anthem and rallying cry for right now.

— Jesse Kinos-Goodin (@JesseKG)

Kid Koala, ‘The Observable Universe’

Kid Koala's sixth solo album, Music to Draw to: Satellite, is the first instalment of Montreal DJ Eric San’s new project, born out of a winter event he’s hosted for years where he invites people to work on their own projects while he plays records he, well, enjoys drawing to. Less turntable, more celestial, Satellite is Kid Koala's new universe: a story of two lovers separated by a one-way space mission to Mars, featuring Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini. “The Observable Universe” is the first offering from the new album, due out Jan. 20, 2017, with its meditative notes throwing to Friday Night Lights-era Explosions in the Sky — if it were set on Mars, maybe.

— Holly Gordon (@hollygowritely)

Austra, ‘Future Politics’

“I’m looking for something to rise up above,” Katie Stelmanis sings on Austra’s new single, “Future Politics.” It’s also the title track of the band’s forthcoming album, and though the video depicts a kind of dance-while-the-world-burns dystopia, the song itself is warmer and more upbeat than that. It shimmers and glows and the urgency evokes a forward momentum, which is fitting since Stelmanis has said the album itself is a call for radical hope. “I’m never coming back here,” she sings over and over atop a sticky synth beat, equal parts warning, reassurance, playful taunt and hope-filled promise.

— Andrea Warner (@_AndreaWarner)

Childish Gambino, 'Redbone'

Childish Gambino's new album, Awaken, My Love!, is a gloriously messy affair. For those who were expecting Donald Glover's musical project to continue in the vein of post-millennial rap for which it had been heading, the album's intense throwback vibe is a pleasant surprise. Perhaps the most notable response came from Questlove of the Roots, who posted that he woke up the reclusive soul genius D'Angelo to listen to the album at 4 a.m. Awaken, My Love! takes George Clinton's '70s P-Funk, Sly Stone’s psychedelia and Bootsy Collins’s rubber soul as its sonic inspiration, and runs with it all the way into the 21st century while thumbing a nose to the idea of a soundcheck. It’s a loose yet completely engaging vibe that is captured on "Redbone," one of Awaken, My Love!'s most straight -ahead songs. Its sonic debt to the past is readily acknowledged, yet the urgent refrain to "Stay woke!" is very much about the year 2016.

— Del F. Cowie (@vibesandstuff)