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Music

Fresh Sounds Canada: Tokyo Police Club, Mustafa, Corridor & More

Check out our recommendations of the must-hear Canadian songs of the week, which also includes a barn-burner from Quebec band Population II and a promising song from singer-songwriter Laraw.

Tokyo Police Club

Tokyo Police Club

Calm Elliott-Armstrong

In Fresh Sounds Canada, Billboard Canada puts you on to the must-hear songs of the week by artists on the rise and those about to break. Here's what's out this week.

Tokyo Police Club, “Just A Scratch” / “Catch Me If You Can”


Ahead of their final shows this fall — four sold-out dates at Toronto’s History — Tokyo Police Club, the influential indie rock band from Newmarket, ON, have announced a slew of North American dates and dropped two farewell singles. Though not necessarily written about their musical breakup, both songs feel like they’re taking stock of something after the fact. “Where would I be if I never met you?” Dave Monks asks on the anthemic “Just a Scratch,” a song about persevering and carrying loss with you.

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Where “Just a Scratch” feels like it could fill a stadium, “Catch Me If You Can” sounds closer to TPC’s roots, with an opening riff that could be straight out of 2007. The b-side is calmer and more melancholy. “You don’t know what you’re not / til your back’s against the wall,” Monks sings, sharing some hard-won wisdom. The drums drop out during a spoken word bridge before the whole band re-enters for one final refrain. It’s a snappy, poignant finale for a group that helped inspire a generation of Canadian guitar bands. If they sound older and wiser, they still have a signature energy that calls to mind a bunch of friends having fun and messing around, working together to find something that sticks.

Tokyo Police Club's final tour runs from Aug. 1 until Nov. 29 and comes to Halifax, Saint John, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and more. Find the full itinerary here. - Rosie Long Decter

Mustafa, “Imaan”

Mustafa's first extended release, 2021's When Smoke Rises, established an unmistakable style of heartfelt lyrics about the hard realities growing up in Toronto's Regent Park in a style influenced by folk music. For his upcoming debut album, just announced to be coming this year on the venerable labels Arts & Crafts in Canada and JAGJAGUWAR for the world, he's expanding that sound even more. "Imaan" adds Sudanese strings and Egyptian oud into that American folk sound, layers it with background vocals from Snoh Aalegra, and adds bigger melodic hooks that he's typically saved for his writing gigs for artists like Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes. The song, he says, is a love song about two Muslims searching for God and purpose, about "longing for all we don't have evidence of." It's romantic and yearning, questioning the grey area between cultures and faiths. - Richard Trapunski

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Corridor, “Mon Argent”

On April 26, this hotly-tipped Montreal band releases a new album, Mimi, on the prestigious Sub pop label. “Mon Argent," the second advance single, is a compelling slab of indie rock that fuses jangly guitar and off-kilter synth sounds. Lyrically, it addresses the challenges of making money from music, but even if Anglophones can’t follow that theme, they’ll be seduced by the sound of the track. Corridor showcases at SXSW this week, followed by May dates in the U.K. and Europe and an extensive November French tour. Itinerary here. - Kerry Doole

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Population II, “R.B.”

It seems, at least according to Population II, that one should savour the good things in life — love, friendship, and wine — before getting devoured by life itself. That's the essence of "R.B.," the first black-and-white excerpt from their upcoming EP, Serpent Échelle, expected on April 19 under the Bonsound label (their first album was released with Castle Face Records, the label of John Dwyer of Oh Sees). To perfect their psych-rock and lo-fi style, Tristan Lacombe, Sébastien Provençal and Pierre-Luc Gratton have enlisted the violin talents of their friend Emmanuel Éthier. Well played! - Amelie Revert

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EDITOR'S PICK: Laraw, “September”

Recently, Laraw caught the curiosity of the Billboard Canada team with "Standby Baby," a track that found its way into our roundup of radio hits of the week. Today, the singer-songwriter presents "September" to keep us waiting until the release of her first album, Quarter Life Crisis, with the Quebec-based record label Bravo on May 3. The song is a pop-punk-tinged introspection that hints at more promising things to come from Laraw. - Amelie Revert

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Phil Nimmons
Bill King

Phil Nimmons

Music

Obituary: Phil Nimmons, The Dean of Canadian Jazz

The acclaimed jazz composer, educator and clarinetist died on April 5, at age 100, leaving behind a formidable legacy and inspiring musicians throughout multiple generations.

Phil (Philip Rista) Nimmons, a Juno-winning and highly influential Canadian jazz composer, educator and clarinetist, died on April 5, at age 100.

Receiving honours that included the Order of Canada and the Governor General's Performing Arts Award testifies to the impact Nimmons (often dubbed the “Dean of Canadian Jazz”) had on Canadian jazz over a long and prolific career.

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