htsStar Tracks compiles the most interesting new music from a broad range of established and emerging artists.
This week’s playlist features new music from Yves Jarvis, Tate McRae, Kehlani, Dehd, Sam Fender, Calvin Harris featuring Dua Lipa and Young Thug, Daphni and Kanye West featuring XXXTentacion.
Click here to listen along to the Spotify playlistwhich includes additional tracks we loved this week.
Yves Jarvis: Bootstrap Jubilee
It takes a rare talent to deconstruct a pop song – to break it down into discrete elements, and then reassemble those parts into something unique and transgressive. Following in the footsteps of notable pop deconstructionists like David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Ween and *whispers* Ariel Pink, comes Yves Jarvis, a Montreal-based artist whose latest release, titled “The Zug,” is one of the strangest but most compelling albums of the year.
Self-produced and self-recorded by Jarvis – whose real name is Jean-Sébastien Yves Audet – “The Zug” is made up of 14 idiosyncratic psych-pop experiments, jammed with sunny vocal melodies, odd time signatures, folky harmonies, lo- fi electronic instruments and shifting song structures that unfold like a puzzle.
And though “The Zug” is best listened to front-to-back, the album’s finest moment is “Bootstrap Jubilee,” which details Jarvis’s journey as a young musician. It’s a sunny origin story, and an ode to the joy of making music. — Richie Assaly
don’t come back: Tate McRae
Canada’s signature sad girl is not so sad anymore. Sounding vexed on “don’t come back,” Tate McRae is completely over everything. Interpolating Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me,” McRae points out on the hook that: “If you wanna go ahead and lie to me/ Throw it all out now/ That’s fine with me/ If I’m not enough for you, honestly, I hope you don’t come back.” It’s an about face from the places she’s occupied in her previous work — instead of remembering someone’s good graces she’s saying good riddance. And to really drive home the point, she’s singing it over a beachy guitar, trap drums and cinematic synths. It’s one thing for someone to be over you, but it’s a next level knife twist when they’ve done it almost happily.
“don’t come back” is a tonal shift in McRae’s songwriting. To establish that with the opening track on her debut album “I used to think I could fly” is a feat within itself. — Demar Grant
It’s not a new song — it’s a new music video. But it made me cry.
On Wednesday, singer-songwriter Kehlani dropped a music video for her song “melt” — off her latest album, “blue water road.” The clip features her girlfriend, Danielle Balbuena, aka 070 Shake, a moody rapper and vocalist signed to GOOD Music and Def Jam. You may have heard her on Kanye’s “Ghost Town,” or you may have heard her new single, “Body,” featuring Christine and the Queens.
From shots of Kehlani rocking out at 070’s concerts to a scene of her putting lipstick on 070 while she’s sleeping, that ends with her chasing Kehlani across the room, laughing, the music video showcases their playful and – honestly – disturbingly cute relationship. More than the beautifully shot scenes, though, it feels real — almost as if the internet stumbled upon private footage of the couple that was only intended to be viewed by them.
And it’s refreshing, especially when songs (and music videos) like Drake’s “Girls Want Girls” exist and are blasted in every venue in Toronto.
I just hope 070 Shake doesn’t get so popular that her concert tickets go for prices similar to Harry Styles instead of the $40 I paid to see her at History last week. — Alessia Passafiume
There’s something so refreshing about Dehd’s music. It sounds clean and breezy, like walking through an empty street after a nasty storm.
“Window” is the final single from the Chicago trio’s upcoming album, “Blue Skies,” which arrived on Friday. According to vocalist and bassist Emily Kempf, the track is about “being obsessed with true love and the construct of ‘the one.’ I wrote it to address my addiction to the terrible and wonderful pursuit of perfect love.”
“There’s a hole in my window/ I was wondering how the rain was getting in/ Was it from all this crying or was it from heaven,” Kempf muses softly in the song’s intro, before Jason Balla’s surfy guitar licks and Eric McGrady’s rubbery percussion enter the mix. The interplay between the three musicians hearkens back to ’80s post-punk and early ’00s indie rock – eras when rock music felt limitless.
Go check out Dehd at Lee’s Palace on May 28 in Toronto. — RA
Kanye West and XXXTentacion: True Love
Posthumous releases are always tricky. In the case of XXXTentacion, I’ve almost always been against them considering the tracks mostly arrived sounding mediocre and haphazardly thrown together. Also, X has been dead for nearly four full years now, and every musical moment beyond his passing has felt like a gravedigging expedition to extract funds from his tomb. But with a virtuoso like Kanye West, X’s vocals on “True Love” are a veneration of his artistry.
The pain that X swam in throughout his life has returned on the hook. Singing: “True love shouldn’t be this complicated, I thought I’d die in your arms, I thought I’d die in your—” X serves as a perfect jumping off point for West as he outlines his recent life turmoil. Over drums that are reminiscent of “Runaway,” a despondent West explains how he feels regarding the situation with his children: “Wait, when I pick ’em up/ I feel like they borrowed/ When I gotta return them/ Scan ’em like a bar code.” West’s relationship struggles have played out in the public eye, but to get a raw introspective look at how they’re affecting him is refreshing and extraordinarily sad. — DG
Sam Fender: Getting Started
Should a time traveler arrive in 2022 and demand to know the best album of the year, without skipping a heartbeat I would point them to Sam Fender’s “Seventeen Going Under” (though I must note Amber Mark’s “Three Dimensions Deep” is not far behind ). Fender — a 28-year-old singer and songwriter hailing from North Shields, United Kingdom — released his second studio album in October, and from the day I heard about it until now, I have kept it on repeat.
Fender released the music video for his latest single, “Getting Started,” this week. The song fits into the larger themes of “Seventeen Going Under,” detailing Fender’s life and survival from poverty, violence, inequity, drugs and alcoholism, abuse and parental neglect as a result of generational trauma. But the track breaks away temporarily as Fender declares he needs a night away with his friends. In the music video, Fender walks through his old stomping grounds, watching a group of teen boys as they go about the town searching for fun. — Annette Ejiofor
As Caribou, Dan Snaith’s music is emotional, traversing various genres and styles in search of joyous catharsis or life-affirming optimism. As Daphni, Snaith’s music is spiritual, tapping into our deeply rooted desire to switch off our brains and let loose on the dance floor.
The latest Daphni single — the first in three years — is a dizzying rave track, one that should only be listened to with your good headphones or after midnight in a club. Built around a steady kick drum and an almost maddeningly off-tempo loop of electronic blips, “Cherry” uses breakneck hand claps and heavy techno bass chords to lock you into its punishing groove.
It’s something of a challenging track, but if you let it grab you it doesn’t let go. — RA
Calvin Harris (feat. Dua Lipa and Young Thug): Potion
Summer vibes are back! Calvin’s Harris’s 2017 project “Funk Wav Bounce Vol 1.” is a perfect example of a long-tail album: when it first dropped, it was an oddity, a pop compilation among artists most would never associate with each other. Five years later, it’s considered a classic with many of its songs littering summer playlists.
“Potion” is another track to add to the collection. With it’s funky bass, sunny-yet-lowkey guitar and bongos, “Potion” is a perfect laid-back continuation of it’s predecessors. It’s a track built for Dua Lipa’s sultry hook, where “Late night conversations, electric emotions, sprinkled with a little bit of sex” make a seductive potion. Crafted for sweaty late night summers, Young Thug still maintains his composure. Thugger brings brisk bars with his signature vocals but exhibits a much more subdued version than we’re used to. Funny lyrics are still on the menu, though, as he’s “been catchin’ love off a backboard, runnin’ from your love, that’s what this track for.” — DG
Annette Ejiofor is an Ottawa-based digital producer for the Star. Reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
JOIN THE CONVERSATION