The Weekend Playlist is back: Kick off the year with tracks from Mitski, The Weeknd, Broken Social Scene, Amber Mark and more


Keeping up with new music releases can be tough. Each week, the Star’s digital producers share the most interesting tracks from a broad range of established and emerging artists.

This week’s playlist features new music from Mitski, Burial, Loathe, Amber Mark, Broken Social Scene and more.

Click here for the Spotify playlist.

Mitski: Love Me More

According to a recent Rolling Stone cover story, Mitski was fully prepared to quit music following the runaway success of “Be the Cowboy,” an album that catapulted the Japanese-American singer-songwriter from indie darling to mainstream success.

“I felt it was shaving away my soul little by little,” she explained “The music industry is this supersaturated version of consumerism. You are the product being consumed, bought, and sold.”

Much to the relief of her army of fans, Mitski, despite her best efforts, was unable to bury her creative urges or her desire for public adoration, a struggle she details on her immediately infectious new single “Love Me More.”

“I need you to love me more … Love enough to drown it out,” she croons over bouncy synths and drums that would sound at home on a New Order song, sublimating her pain into an undeniable hook.

“Love Me More” is the fourth single from the highly-anticipated “Laurel Hell,” which drops Feb 4.

MICHELLE: EXPIRATION DATE

New York indie pop collective MICHELLE released their new single “Expiration Date” last week, one of multiple tracks expected to be on their upcoming album “AFTER DINNER WE TALK DREAMS,” dropping on Jan. 28.

One of many things to admire about the group is their versatility, from creating calm R&B slow jams to blast on a chill day, to funky and upbeat indie pop anthems to give you energy in the morning.

“Expiration Date” touches on losing and letting go of a relationship through satisfying and melodic harmonies, delivering a soothing and catchy tune that’s sure to be added to your liked songs playlist.

According to the collective, their upcoming album “​​is the culmination of what it means for six friends and collaborators to continuously reimagine their world on 14 succinct tracks.”

P.S. keep your eyes out for MICHELLE’s upcoming performance at Toronto’s Massey Hall on March 18, where the collective is expected to open for Mitski.

The Weeknd: Less Than Zero

There are plenty of captivating twists and turns on the Weeknd’s latest album, “Dawn FM”: the bizarre pitched-down vocals on “Gasoline,” the flowery alchemy of Tyler, The Creator and Beach Boy Bruce Johnston on “Here We Go … Again,” the surprisingly poignant spoken-word outro by Jim Carrey … together, they make up the sum parts of The Weeknd’s most ambitious and coherent project in years, an electro-funk opus that represents the cutting edge of popular music.

One of the most satisfying left turns comes on “Less Than Zero,” the album’s buoyant penultimate track, one that channels the expansive energy of ‘80s stadium rock-revivalists The War On Drugs. “I can’t get it out of my head,” The Weeknd sings, with a hint of vulnerability, over a softly strummed acoustic guitar and glittery synth stabs.

Amber Mark: Most Men

R&B singer Amber Mark has delivered yet another incredible, soul-soothing tune with her latest single “Most Men.”

Mark released a captivating live-to-track performance of the single for Color Studios, giving the world a glimpse into her upcoming album “Three Dimensions Deep,” set to release on Jan. 28.

Singing barefoot with nothing but a microphone and a vibrant yellow backdrop, Mark starts off sombre and passionate, taking the time to emphasize each note before elevating the song to another level by gradually following the progressing beat and blossoming into full liveliness.

In song form, Mark gives a tough-love hype chat you’d give a friend — or say, a random stranger in the club bathroom — who you’re trying to protect from being hurt in a relationship or who just needs a fiery boost of love and confidence. Mark cuts straight to the point, bluntly singing: “And I’m telling you honey there are other men in this world that will give a b— the love that she deserves.”

“Most Men” brings all the perfect harmonies, raspy tones and whistle notes you could hope for.

On top of her highly anticipated album release, Mark is also expected to play at The Axis Club (formerly The Mod Club) in Toronto on March 31.

Loathe: ‘Dimorphous Display’

During these brooding winter weeks, sometimes you need something equally brooding to fit the mood.

Heavy metal quartet Loathe, who broke barriers and turned critics’ heads in 2020 with “I Let it In and It Took Everything” (even Pitchfork awarded them a favourable 7.8/10 review), is kicking off their next album run with the dark and experimental single “Dimorphous Display,” announced as a collaboration with new producer Eddie Al-Shakarchi.

The nearly five-minute track is a diverse feat, see-sawing between heavy riffs on dangerously low-tuned guitars and gentle, soothing atmospheric vocals to break up its most fiery moments. Evoking a clear influence from ’90s nu-metal acts such as the Deftones, Loathe carefully and effectively balances that line between light and dark, occupying a space that so many other bands in the genre could only dream of achieving.

The Liverpool, U.K., group is expected to release their fourth studio album later this year, and if “Dimorphous Display” is the first taste of what’s to come, things are sounding promising.

Burial: Strange Neighbourhood

Last spring, when hope was still a thing, the experimental electronic artist Burial released “Dark Gethsemane,” a sprawling, ten-minute epic that culminates in a mighty climax built upon a rousing gospel sample: “We will rock this nation,with the power of love!”

It’s tricky to conjure those feelings however many months later, as time crawls by in the midst of another cold and grey pandemic January. Fortunately, Burial has returned with “Antidawn,” a mysterious and fragmented batch of music that manages to capture the bleakness of the moment without succumbing to despair.

The EP’s opener, “Strange Neighbourhood,” has a dreamlike quality – featuring digitally-altered vocal samples (a Burial signature), hazy organ chords and plenty of ambient noise, the track shifts between various moods and atmospheres over the course of eleven minutes. It’s a slow-burning, enigmatic experience – music that seems to float in place rather than move forward. In other words: a perfect soundtrack for this formless stretch of time.

Broken Social Scene: Curse Your Fail

Feeling nostalgic for the days of live music? Were all the shows you fought to get tickets for cancelled (again)? Want to pretend it’s 2010? Well why not take a walk down memory lane with a newly-released rarity from Broken Social Scene, the ever-evolving indie rock collective and ever-constant staple in the Toronto live music scene?

Originally released twelve years ago as a rare split 7-inch’ single with American band The Sea and Cake, “Curse Your Fail” is quintessential BSS: chunky drums, beautifully layered guitars and vocals served up by no less than four band members, including Sebastien Grainger (of Death From Above 1979 fame).

The track appears on “Old Dead Young: B-sides & Rarities,” a career-spanning collection of B-sides, rarities, and outtakes that spans the band’s two-decade-long career. It’s out now.

Bonus: Mach-Hommy: LAJAN SAL

2021 was a big year for Mach-Hommy. The Haitian-American rapper and Griselda co-founder released the excellent album “Pray For Haiti,” appeared on many year-end lists, and landed a guest spot on Kaytranada’s “Intimidated” EP, where he rapped in Creole.

In December, he dropped his second album of the year, titled “Balens Cho.” The more low-key but still high quality project features several gems, including “Lajan Sal” (Dirty Money), which makes brilliant use of a sample from the ‘60s girl group Honey Cone.





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