Drake’s sneak-peek single, Sting’s All-Star Game track and eight more essential songs to hear this month
Every month, we bring you a track-by-track breakdown of the city’s best new music and most anticipated concerts. In this edition: Stars dabbles in Dylan, a punk band gets riled up about the DVP, and what’s a birthday party without a rave under a giant parachute?
A sneak peek at Views From The 6
We’re only a month into 2016 and Drake’s already gunning for song-of-the-summer status with the first song off Views From The 6, “Summer Sixteen.” It’s a diss track through and through: in the first verse, he takes on his nemesis Meek Mill (who released a retaliatory track no more than 15 minutes after this one dropped); in the second, he boasts about his Kanye-sized swimming pool. “Look man,” Drizzy raps, “Ye’s pool is nice, mine’s just bigger’s what I’m saying.” Listen to the track on Apple Music.
Sting’s prelude to the end of the game
This week, it was announced that Sting would play the NBA All-Star Game and not, you know, the Toronto-obsessed rapper who renamed the city, regularly straddles the sidelines at Raptors games and is going to be at the ACC anyway. People were a bit, um, disappointed. But here’s Sting’s “Prelude to the End of the Game”—because, for most people, that’s all his performance will be.
Electric Dylan, without the controversy
When Bob Dylan brought an electric guitar and rock band to the Newport Folk Festival in 1964, the crowd booed through his entire set. Let’s hope nobody tells those folk purists about Stars’ superb synth-powered cover of Zimmy’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe.” It’s the first in a series of covers that the indie mainstays plan to release every month this year.
A banger about the Don Valley
In the second verse of their frenzied new single, “DVP,” Toronto punk outfit Pup screams about not wanting to die, which would be much more believable if the rest of the song wasn’t about getting drunk on the daily and “doing 180 on the Don Valley Parkway.”
An all-star hip-hop collaboration
Rising Toronto-born rapper Tory Lanez tapped Halifax producer Ryan Hemsworth to collaborate on “Mama Told Me,” a hauntingly violent track inspired by Lanez’ mother, who died when he was 11. Now, Lanez and Hemsworth pairing up again for a free show on February 14 at the Danforth Music Hall.
A rapping pianist returns to classical
Chilly Gonzales’ oeuvre includes trip-hop, electro-pop and rap, but, as a pianist, he’s always seemed like the classical world’s emissary to modern music. The Canadian expat embraces that role when he returns to Toronto to play a show at Massey Hall on February 5 with the Kaiser Quartett, who feature on his latest album, Chambers, which reimagines chamber music as pop. Here’s “Advantage Points,” one of the record’s finest tunes.
A Toronto troubadour’s crushing ballad about Nashville
Donovan Woods once wrote a “national anthem” for Toronto, and he seems to be yearning for his hometown on “Leaving Nashville,” an early single off his excellent upcoming album, Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled. Lady Antebellum’s Chris Kelley is getting the lion’s share of the attention for his cover of the song—ironic, given Woods’ disillusioned lyrics are all about the struggles of a writer’s life in Music City.
An early listen from Basia Bulat’s new album
The autoharp afficionado’s last album, Tall Tall Shadow, earned a spot on the Polaris Music Prize short list. Her recent single, “Infamous,” sticks to stunning vocals and smart songwriting. If you like the track, you can hear other cuts from Basia Bulat’s upcoming record, Good Advice, when she plays the Mod Club on February 19.
Another superb song called “Saturday Night”
“Saturday Night” was the name of the top track on The Wooden Sky’s Let’s Be Ready, the best Canadian roots album of 2014. Now, B.C. rockers Yukon Blonde have tapped the same name for a sleek, shimmering single off their recent release, On Blonde. Here’s its comical, captivating new video.
A Drake Hotel birthday bash under a parachute
To celebrate its 12th birthday, the Drake Hotel is enlisting the party rock of Halifax’s Rich Aucoin, who throws the best live shows in this country. They invariably involve cathartic shout-alongs, gargantuan group hugs and a dance party under a rainbow-coloured parachute tarp. Here’s his most triumphant tune, “It.”