Shad, New City, Kaia Kater and more: songs you need to hear this week
Each week, CBC Music producers come together to highlight Canada's best new tracks.
The songs that stood out this week come from Nicole Dollanganger, New City, Shad, Echlo and Kaia Kater. Scroll down to find out why you need to hear them, too.
What new Canadian tunes are you currently obsessed with? Share them with us on Twitter @CBCMusic.
On A Short Story About a War, Shad's first rap album in five years, the Canadian MC digs deep into our relationship with fear: how it affects our everyday lives, how it drives violence and pain, how it prevents intimacy and connection. On standout track "Peace/War," Shad explores two sides of the same coin: "Silence is when we shoot from the lip to quiet them/ we talk nonviolence and stay silent when it suits/ it's all violence at the roots." Sonically, this is one of Shad's darkest turns yet, employing big, brash, bass-heavy electronic production that Vince Staples and Travis Scott have bolstered in a post-Yeezus landscape — but over four-and-a-half minutes, the track twists and turns, managing to avoid hitting any bleak dead ends. Instead, Shad fights through it, knowing that at any point, peace can devolve to war, but the opposite is also a possibility.
— Melody Lau
'Poets be Buried,' Kaia Kater
Montreal-based Grenadian–Canadian songstress Kaia Kater returns with her folk-rooted album Grenades. The standout track "Poets be Buried" is a masterful exploration of familial history, diaspora and artistic tradition. In an interview with American Songwriter, Kater stated she took inspiration from Etheridge Knight's poem For Black Poets Who Think of Suicide, which advocates the use of suffering and loneliness for art that celebrates life. Her signature banjo serves as the foundation for her soft, contemplative lyrics, producing a brilliant story that blooms with each new line. What results is a narrative that captures the intergenerational trauma that Black artists carry and the rejection of long-standing political oppression. It's a requiem for the past, and a love letter to the future.
— Natasha Ramoutar
'Lacrymaria Olor,' Nicole Dollanganger
Nicole Dollanganger became the first — and so far only — signee to Grimes' Eerie label for her October 2015 release, and Heart Shaped Bed is the first full-length to follow. The Stouffville, Ont., singer released the A side (the first five songs) in March of this year, while this newly released B side also holds five tracks, including standout and album closer "Lacrymaria Olor." On it, Dollanganger's ethereal vocals float over slide guitar and piano, mourning a relationship that demands a goodbye. The song is named after a single-celled organism whose name translates to "swan tear" from Latin — and is considered a predator that can "extend its neck seven times its body length to engulf its victims."
Dollanganger told Stereogum that a recurring theme on Heart Shaped Bed is "how a person's sense of individual identity can become blurred inside a relationship," and on "Lacrymaria Olor" it's hard not to picture that organism swallowing the two people whole. With its lullaby-like delivery, though, the ending feels deceptively sweet.
— Holly Gordon
'For my Eyes Only,' New City
If the energetic pop-rock of such acts as Maroon 5, Marianas Trench and Nick Jonas is your thing, then pay attention to New City. The Toronto trio's latest song, "For my Eyes Only," dropped last month and concerns itself primarily with jealousy: "I can't watch you love somebody else," goes the pre-chorus, setting up the refrain, "I want her for my eyes only" — a sentiment whose creepiness is dispelled by Adrian Mitchell's winning vocals and the eminently danceable beat. The track's fulsome production includes impressive guitar work by Jed Webster in the final chorus, taking the intensity up a notch.
— Robert Rowat
'Beautifully Cruel,' Echlo
In 2016, Chloe Charles gave herself an ultimatum: either she would quit the music industry or create music that was different. Fresh from that two-year journey comes Echlo, the singer-songwriter's reinvention of herself. "Beautifully Cruel" is a seductive track off her inaugural album, Echolocation. It sets the atmosphere with melancholy piano, then come the sultry, forlorn vocals that draw you in. Finally, the actual words themselves: a poem that weaves a beautiful and tragic tale. Although we bring you this track on Halloween, its echo is guaranteed to haunt you long after. — NR