Canadian masked singer Orville Peck shares a glammed up video

Star Tracks compiles the most interesting new music from a broad range of established and emerging artists.

This week’s playlist features new music from Orville Peck, Caroline Polachek, The Rural Alberta Advantage, 88Glam, Spoon, Yeat, Adekunle Gold with Ty Dolla $ign, Hope Tala and more.

Click here to listen along to the Spotify playlist, which includes additional tracks we loved this week.

Orville Peck: C’mon Baby, Cry

There’s just something about Orville Peck — the fringed leather masks, the velvety voice, the old-school songwriting that borders pastiche — that not even the most country-averse music fan can resist.

The mysterious Canadian singer leans into this phenomenon in the glitzy and hilarious music video for his new single “C’mon Baby, Cry,” which features cameos by comedian Margaret Cho and RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Kornbread.

“I don’t want you to be afraid/ Let me see you cry,” Peck sings to a lonely cowboy as his baritone erupts into a soaring falsetto. Offended by this display of unguarded vulnerability, the bar’s male patrons hurl boos and beer bottles at our masked hero. But — with a little help from Cho and Kornbread, some colourful strobe lights and a couple shots of whisky — Peck carries on, serving up a dramatic dance performance that wins over the crowd and manages to squeeze a single tear from the cowboy’s eye.

Musically, the track is considerably brighter than Peck’s earlier work, perhaps signalling a poppier new direction for his forthcoming album “Bronco,” which will be released in chapter instalments before arriving in full on April 8. “This is my most impassioned and authentic album to date,” Peck said in a release. “I was inspired by country rock, 60s & 70s psychedelic, California and bluegrass with everything being anchored in country.” — Richie Assaly

The Rural Alberta Advantage: CANDU

It’s been five long years, but indie rock band The Alberta Rural Advantage is finally back with some new tunes.

The Toronto group have released two new tracks: “CANDU” and “AB Bride.” The new music also marks the return of keyboardist and vocalist Amy Cole to the studio (she had briefly left from 2016-18).

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“CANDU” is classic RAA, with an emotional crescendo in the latter half and the hallmark explosive drumming of Paul Banwatt. The song itself is a reference to the story of Uranium City, Sask., (vocalist Nils Edenloff sings “You are all alone under Uranium City lights” in the first verse), a northern community that collapsed after the closure of mines in 1982. A high school in the area was also named CANDU, after the Canadian-made nuclear energy reactor.

But seriously, listen to “CANDU” and I’d be surprised if you don’t get goosebumps toward the end. Welcome back, RAA. — Justin Smirlies

88Glam: Want To

Toronto hip hop duo 88Glam are living life exactly how they want to.

Over a dance hall beat fused with trap hi-hats, 88 Camino and Derek Wise lavish in a carefree life that few can afford to live but many dream of. When Derek Wise croons “My seats is on the floor, can’t do rows up/Can’t do the nose bleeds/ I’m close up/Have you ever seen a butterfly with the doors up?” It’s done ever so comely, to remind you how easily it’s come to him. And 88 Camino only reinforces the sentiment in his effortless, repetitive hook “I do what I want to/I do what I want to/ Had a couple dreams ‘til they came true.” — Demar Grant

Caroline Polachek: Billions

Two months after Pitchfork named “Bunny Is A Rider” the best song of 2021, Caroline Polachek is back with “Billions,” another strange and extraordinary song that, over the course of five minutes, expands and soars like a slowly-filled helium balloon.

Since leaving the confines of the indie duo Chairlift in 2016, Polachek has transformed into one of the most interesting contemporary musical auteurs, borrowing sounds and styles from pop music one minute, before upending them in the next. On “Billions,” she continues to chart new territory, delivering cryptic but evocative lyrics in varying octaves over spacious production from her frequent collaborator (and OG hyperpop wizard) Danny L Harle.

Watching the accompanying video, one can’t help but think of Polachek’s avant-pop forebear Kate Bush, especially during the song’s transcendent outro, in which the camera zooms dramatically toward her face as her voice merges with the stunning harmonies of London’s Trinity Boys and Girls Choir. — RA

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Hope Tala: Party Sickness

Oh how the times change but stay the same. Earlier this month, 24-year-old west London artist Hope Tala introduced listeners to “Party Sickness,” a thematic and musical evolution of Katy Perry’s messy party anthem “Last Friday Night.”

Party sickness refers to those silly little things we’ve all done at a house party that we later wished to forget. Whether it be making a scene after one too many orange juice shots or thinking those moves you perfected at home definitely needed an audience, Tala normalizes them all in her latest single.

On the heels of the release of her 2021 single “Tiptoeing,” and with a nod from former U.S. President Barack Obama – where Tala landed on his favourite music of 2020 list – “Party Sickness” is an alternative/R&B record destined for those of us still in our dancing shoes during the pandemic. Of course, nothing humbles you like when you realize you’re in your bedroom and not a club in Miami. — Annette Ejiofor

Pusha T: Diet Coke

Yesterday’s price is not today’s price. Over a classic Kanye “chipmunk soul” production sprinkled with keys, Pusha T offers up the usual: coke bars and braggadocio. Between cocaine-coated choruses sit two verses with start-and-stop flows outlining why Pusha T knows you’re jealous of him. “They mad at us/ who wouldn’t be? We became everything you couldn’t be/Everything your mama said you shouldn’t be.” And yet “The Porsche’s horses revvin’, like, ‘Look at me.’” — DG

Adekunle Gold feat. Ty Dolla $ign: One Woman

Ty Dolla $ign is kind of like sriracha – add him to any song in any genre, and you get a little more flavour, a little more kick. After spending years as the most valuable utility player in hip hop and R&B, he dabbled in house music, teaming up with Skrillex and appeared on a track with Kaytranada. And now, Ty is testing his hand at Nigerian pop music, teaming up with the singer-songwriter Adekunle Gold for “One Woman.”

Predictably, Ty sounds right at home on the breezy track, harmonizing with Gold and dropping goofy but somehow charming lines: “Don’t want nobody but my boo-thang/ We kickin’ s–t like Liu Kang.”

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Gold’s fourth studio album, “Catch Me If You Can,” dropped earlier this month. — RA

Yeat: Still Countin’

An acolyte of Playboi Carti, Young Thug and Trippie Redd, Yeat has always been able to meld their most interesting attributes. ‘Still Countin’ mixes Carti’s sparse lyrics, Thugger’s yelps and Trippie’s cybernetic production with Yeat’s hostile vocals to make an absolute rager. It’s loud, it’s repetitive, it’s intoxicating and it’s abrasive, everything required to have you bouncing off the walls and Yeat is at the centre of it. Teetering at the precipice of experimental and the mainstream Yeat and his sound is poised for an explosive future. — DG

Spoon: My Babe

On Friday, indie rock journeymen Spoon released their tenth studio album, “Lucifer on the Sofa,” their first record since 2017. Nearly twenty years into their career, the Texas band sounds assured and comfortable on tracks like “The Hardest Cut,” a bluesy, guitar-driven jam that makes you wanna slam a Labatt 50 in a grimy dive bar.

Spoon’s third and final single, “My Babe,” is a jaunty rock ballad that evokes the spirit of 90s Britpop without tipping over into empty nostalgia. “Let our love beat in time/ Let our hearts go on and on now,” frontman Britt Daniel declares with a sincerity that really only works if you’re a 50-year-old rockstar with a haircut like that.

Bonus tracks:

yeule: Bites on My Neck

Fivio Foreign, Kanye West, Alicia Keys: City of Gods

Moses Sumney: Polly (Live From Blackalachia)

$not feat. Kevin Abstract: EYE EYE EYE

Annette Ejiofor is an Ottawa-based digital producer for the Star. Reach her via email at aejiofor@torstar.ca


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