Fresh Sounds Canada: Kaytranada, Mattmac & More
Listen to the must-hear songs and releases of the week, including an understated odyssey from Sean Leon, a vulnerable pair of songs from Ouri and an overdue celebration of rising powerhouse LU KALA.
Year-end lists tend to slow the trickle of new releases, but we still got a big pair of new songs from Montreal DJ/producer Kaytranada that are more than enough to fill our playlist this week. He's not alone. This week's must-hear Fresh Sounds also include new releases from Mattmac, Ouri and a Sean Leon album that features guest spots from Daniel Caesar and Jessie Reyez.
Kaytranada, “Lover/Friend” (feat. Rochelle Jordan) & “Stuntin’” (feat. Channel Tres)
Kaytranada always shines when he collaborates with other artists, which is one of the reasons his collaboration with Aminé as KAYTRAMINÉ was such an understated gem of 2023. But it’s a big deal when the no- LA-based Montreal DJ/producer releases music under his own name, and his new pair of singles feature all of the warm and bouncy house sound we need to get us through Canadian winter. As usual, he’s drawn in two vocal collaborators who perfectly fit in his unmistakable pocket.
Mattmac x Rex Smallboy, “Give It Time”
Mattmac is a name you should know: the Oji-Cree artist, hailing from Garden Hill First Nation, is making waves with his catchy spin on trap pop. He won the 2022 Canada’s Walk of Fame Emerging Musician Grand Prize and the 2023 CBC Searchlight Grand Prize, and his latest single, “Give It Time,” is a melancholy ode to waiting things out. “A celebration but it ain’t about the fun / I’m breaking cycles while I’m holding on a grudge,” Mattmac sings over a moody guitar riff, before the beat comes in. The track also features a verse from Rex Smallboy, his low voice providing a counterpart to Mattmac’s higher timbre as he provides words of inspiration: “hold yourself up with love and with pride / you are worthy, so give it time.”
Lu Kala, “Hotter Now”
This empowering kiss-off anthem from Congolese-Canadian singer LU KALA just hit the Billboard charts in Canada. It's her second big chart moment this year after her feature on Latto’s “Lottery.” And it's easy to see why her music is resonating. "Hotter Now" is the kind of replayable feeling-yourself song that feels as at home on a getting-ready playlist as under a thousand TikTok clips. Expect big things from LU KALA going into 2024.
Sean Leon, In Loving Memory
Toronto producer and rapper Sean Leon has had some high-profile collaborations of late, most notably with Kanye West on his recent gospel work. But he's still fiercely independent and ambitious, always on his own wave. Catch it, and you're rewarded with this moody and emotional hip-hop/R&B odyssey that pays tribute to his late brother. The album also features guest spots from Toronto heavyweights like Daniel Caesar (on "THE GLADE), Jessie Reyez (on "DISHONORED") and Dylan Sinclair (on "MEMORIES"), plus at least one more familiar voice that goes uncredited. It's an adventurous album, but also inviting and easy to get lost in.
EDITOR’s PICK: Ouri, “Blueprints of Us” & “Tame Me”
The music of Ouri is unmistakable. After making it to the shortlist for the Polaris Prize in 2022 with her hypnotic and impactful Frame of a Fauna, the Montreal-based singer, songwriter, DJ and producer is once again making waves with two new singles. On "blueprints of us" and "tame me," she reveals a more raw, perhaps somehow even more vulnerable voice that is rooted in electronic melodies that are both minimalist, experimental, ethereal, and at times, strange.