Music

Charmaine's confident new single, and 4 more songs you need to hear this week

Listen to fresh new tracks from Boslen, Elio, Chelsea Russell and more.

Listen to fresh new tracks from Boslen, Elio, Chelsea Russell and more

Woman with long, dark curly hair, wearing diamond sunglasses, a fur coat and leopard print gloves, poses with her tongue out while sitting inside a car.
Toronto rapper Charmaine released her latest EP, Press Play, on Nov. 24. (Spencer Edwards; graphic by CBC Music)

Songs you need to hear is CBC Music's weekly list of hot new Canadian tracks.

Scroll down to find out what our producers are listening to this week.


'Tell Me Why,' Boslen

The dramatic 2012 film The Place Beyond the Pines spotlights a story of love, tragedy and fate, and serves as the inspiration for rapper-singer Boslen's snappy new single. "The harder that I try, the less I get it right," he admits on the chorus, encapsulating a struggle experienced by two of the movie's characters, Luke (played by Ryan Gosling) and Jason (played by Dane DeHaan). Despite the track's semi-pessimistic themes, Boslen uses the chorus to build an upbeat sonic surge. By the time the second refrain kicks in, listeners are treated to a bubbly, pop-tinged explosion, where Boslen gets to show off his falsetto. It's yet another playful display of Boslen's eagerness to experiment and expand upon his musical palette. "The song reflects the dual nature of sacrifice," he said in a press release. "It is hard to give up on some of the most important things in life while chasing your dreams." — Natalie Harmsen


'A2B,' Elio 

Toronto pop artist Elio opens her latest track, "A2B," by warning listeners: "I've been going a thousand miles an hour lately, I'm Mercedes." As the words pour out, four to five speedy syllables at a time, it's clear that the track is illustrating what a roll Elio has been on since she made her debut back in 2020. In just three years, she has released two albums and amassed millions of streams, all thanks to her electro-driven pop tunes fashioned in the style of her mentor, Charli XCX. Fun and energetic, "A2B" is our second glimpse at her upcoming new era after the release of the banjo-laden "Sorority" earlier this year. "It's the alternate side to working too hard, where you feel like you're on your shit and moving a thousand miles an hour," she said in a statement. "No one can keep up with you but in the best way." We sure can try, though, so buckle up, hit play and prepare for a wild ride. — Melody Lau 


'Who's That,' Charmaine

"Who's That" overflows with the bombastic energy we've come to expect from Charmaine, the Zimbabwe-born, Toronto-based rapper who emerged on the scene with the aptly titled single "Bold" in 2020. This new track, the opener from her recent EP, Press Play, clocks in under two minutes but still manages to pack a colossal punch. It's the perfect introduction to the artist for the unacquainted, with bar after bar of her explaining exactly who she is. Over heavy drums and iced-out synths, she raps about being in her own lane: "I don't do this for the likes/ do it for the leisure," and, "When I pull up they be grim/ I'm a reaper." Charmaine's confidence is infectious and by the second chorus you will feel equally invincible. — Kelsey Adams


'Pas la peine,'  Rau_Ze

Rau_Ze only have two singles out, but with the recent release of "Pas la peine," the winners of the 2022 Francouvertes competition are staking their claim on the future of R&B/soul coming out of Montreal. Over easy percussion, synths and a whispering bassline, Rose Perron and Félix Paul, who make up the core of Rau_Ze, deliver a single that will easily slide into a playlist meant for these cold and dark November nights. "C'est pas la peine/ oublie la tienne/ à quoi ça sert de souffrir maintenant?" Perron sing-songs on the chorus, her voice dropping low on the verses to dig into the melancholia, describing a protected place to hide from low feelings. Rau_Ze is fluid in genre — Perron and Paul studied jazz in CEGEP, and told Radio-Canada that part of their sound is "neo-soul queb" — and the duo blurs the lines of jazz, soul and R&B in compelling ways. (Perron and Paul's September 2023 single will give you a more high-energy taste of their sound.) And there's more to come: Rau_Ze has announced an album for 2024, with release shows April 12 and 13. — Holly Gordon


'Honey,' Chelsea Russell

Alt-R&B singer Chelsea Russell is back with another captivating single off her upcoming EP, If Everything was Beautiful. "Honey" follows "Country Gal," which was released back in May and gave us a glimpse into the sonic world the Jamaican-born, Toronto-based singer and actor is crafting. The new track is a down-tempo, sultry number about an elusive love interest that seems to have wandered back into her life. As she navigates how to proceed, it becomes clear that the two are inextricably tethered: "You're just like honey/ You stay stuck on me." Her vocals are airy and delicate but the little bit of Jamaican patois she throws into the intro and outro gives the song much-welcomed grit . — KA

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