Fred Again, Carly Rae Jepsen, Kelela: Here are 8 songs you need to hear this week – Toronto Star

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Star Tracks compiles the most interesting new music from a broad range of established and emerging artists. This week’s playlist features tracks from Fred Again, Kelela, Carly Rae Jepsen, Coco & Clair Clair, Rina Sawayama, Badge Époque Ensemble, Dom Vallie and Louis Cole.
Click here to listen along to the Spotify playlist.
Fred again …: “Danielle (smile on my face)”
On Tuesday, Jamie xx released “KILL DEM,” a massive, Caribbean-influenced heater that many are calling the last great song of the summer. But I may have to reserve that title for another London-based artist who seems poised to become the new top boy of pop-oriented house music.
Fred John Philip Gibson, who DJs and produces under the moniker Fred Again has been building momentum for a couple of years now, but exploded in popularity in July following his Boiler Room set in London — an instant classic that already has nearly 6 million views on YouTube. For the uninitiated, Fred’s latest single, “Danielle (smile on my face),” is a perfect entry point — built around a propulsive bassline and modulated vocal sample of 070 Shake’s “Nice To Have,” the expansive track carves out a bittersweet middle ground between pained yearning and elation, like coming down from a trip but realizing you’re still surrounded on the dance floor by all your best friends.
Fred Again’s third studio album, “Actual Life 3,” comes out Oct. 28. — Richie Assaly
Kelela: “Washed Away”
Who doesn’t love a new era? After the success of her 2017 album, “Take Me Apart,” 39-year-old music artist Kelela has returned with a new single (more of an interlude) titled “Washed Away.” She is sanguine as she guides you through the song, with intricate lyricism she knows her fans and community will understand. For many, this year has been one of rebirth in some areas and revelations in others; “Washed Away” lands you at a place of relief and optimism. The music video, directed by Yasser Abubeker, was filmed in Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression, and conjoined with the record feels like a love letter to all, but specifically to her Black fans across the globe who understand the symbolism of home soil and the power of water to cleanse the past and bring a new present/future. — Annette Ejiofor
Carly Rae Jepsen: “Talking To Yourself”
Prepare to hear this one on the radio for the next 365 days. Carly Rae Jepsen has made a living off 80s-influenced pop tracks, and “Talking To Yourself” is another in a long line of pop centrism. The gated drums, the watery guitar riff, the overpowering synths and sugary vocals would’ve made this the ultimate summer track if it was released in June instead of September, but at least I’ll get to tuck this in the vault for next year. The lyrics are also your typical Jepsen-isms about wondering about an ex’s thoughts post-break up. For most others, the ruminations of an ex’s intentions and thoughts would be a small tragedy backed by melancholy production and yet Jepsen’s ever-bright artistry makes even ruminations sound peppy. — Demar Grant
Coco & Clair Clair: “Cherub”
Coco & Clair Clair, the internet’s favourite “real pop girlies,” are back with another two minutes of chaos on their single “Cherub.” The duo, known for their whacky lyrics, hilarious ad-libs and Garage Band-style production, spent the summer playing shows, including one at Montreal’s Osheaga festival. Their single “Pop Star” was big on TikTok for a bit, though I’m sure you haven’t heard them on the radio.
“She’s a little b—h, she’s my mini-me, wannabe/ Pull up to the party, bet your boo wanna leave with me / I got lots of friends, and they all wanna die for me,” they rap over a barely-produced background track, or “Runescape type beat” as they call it. “Imma Jordin Sparks her, that’s right, No Air.”
I still can’t decide if they’re doing a bit, but I’m obsessed nonetheless. And I keep “Cherub” on repeat. — Alessia Passafiume
Rina Sawayama: “Hurricanes”
‘Hurricanes’ is a blast from the 2000s past – in the best way. The single’s nostalgic pop-rock melodies, in combination with Rina Sawayama’s powerful vocals, will give you the incredible urge to run outside in the rain – Drew Barrymore style.
This is one of the most upbeat tracks on the British-Japanese artist’s sophomore album, “Hold The Girl,” which was released on Sept. 16. The song’s sharp drumming and driving electric guitars provide a boost of energy. Sawayama sings from the heart about keeping pain and emotions inside, belting: “Always wanted to be best at everything / Even when it brings out the worst in myself / So create a storm and bury it deep / Hiding the key in plain sight / Just in case I need help.”
Even the music video’s set up in a barn, on a stormy day, with the wind blowing directly at Sawayama, while her band makes you feel like you are watching a peak 2000s music video off the Much Music countdown in the morning – all that’s missing is a random rain storm to perform soaking wet in. — Madi Wong
Badge Époque Ensemble: “Clouds of Joy”
Released in August by the Toronto-based supergroup Badge Époque Ensemble, “Clouds of Joy” is a brilliant and eccentric blend of jazzy neo-psychedelia and 70s AM radio pop — a record that sounds a bit like the progeny of “Hot Rats”-era Zappa and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. Led by songwriter and producer Max Turnbull, A.K.A. Slim Twig, the album is set in a sparkling and cheery sonic universe, where electric guitars and saxophones live in perfect harmony with conga drums, flutes and clarinets.
Clocking in at six-and-a-half-minutes, the album’s instrumental title track is the aural equivalent of a whimsical frolic through an enchanted forest, one populated by funky wah-wah guitars, dueling woodwinds and mesmerizing percussion. Deliciously weird. — RA
Dom Vallie: luvemeanywhere!
Prancing keys, muddy 808s and understated drums, “luvemeanywhere!” is a perfect introduction to Toronto’s Dom Vallie’s burgeoning journey and latest album “Are We There yet?.” “luvemeanywhere!” is a table setter with a plate of hors d’oeuvre. It starts with Vallie singing the production tilted toward L.A. snaps and claps, then dropping the meat of the song with Vallie rapping about his work ethic before a distorted electronic breakdown and ending. We’ve always known Dom Vallie can rap, but that’s different than making songs. Vallie has had these tools and styles demonstrated in individual songs, showing flashes of his artistry, but “luvemeanywhere!” is an excellent exhibition of what they all sound like together. The result is a progressive rap track that sparks an appetite to dance but then climaxes in a feeling of euphoric ascension. — DG
Louis Cole: I’m Tight
Louis Cole is “one of Los Angeles’s greatest musicians,” according to Thundercat. That’s pretty high praise coming from one of the best and most in-demand living bass players, even if they are best friends. But there’s plenty of evidence for Thundercat’s claim on Cole’s recent single “I’m Tight,” a seven-minute space-funk odyssey anchored by a tight drum groove and a heavy dose of fidgety slap bass theatrics that make Flea sound like Adam Clayton.
“It comes from me recording about 100 different cells of funk, choosing my favourite ones and quilting them together into a song,” Cole, who performed all the instruments and produced the track himself, explained in a statement. “You think I’m weird/ but I’m still f–ing here/That is why I’m tight,” he proclaims at one point in the track. And yeah, he’s right.
Cole’s upcoming album, “Quality Over Opinion,” arrives Oct. 14. — RA

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