Music

Rhye's new '80s-inspired disco song, and 5 more songs you need to hear this week

Here are some fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now.

Here are some fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now

Rhye draws inspiration from '80s disco for his new single, 'Black Rain.' (Genevieve Medow Jenkins)

Every week, CBC Music producers come together to highlight some of Canada's best new releases. The rule: if it's a song you need to hear, you'll find it on this list.

This week, we have songs from:

  • Patrick Watson.
  • Ariana Grande featuring the Weeknd.
  • Zach Zoya.
  • Rhye.
  • Gianna Lauren.
  • Evan Shay featuring Chiquita Magic.

Scroll down to find out why you need to hear them, too.

What are some Canadian tunes you're currently obsessed with? Share with us on Twitter @CBCMusic.


'Lost With You,' Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson's piano playing has always been immersive, each note building a delicate, fleeting world. His newest track, "Lost With You," is light in its touch and similarly affecting, two verses strung together sans chorus for a brief reprieve under those "Sunday summer trees." Paired with a video co-directed by Arizona O'Neill, daughter of Montreal author Heather O'Neill (and Watson's partner), it's impossible not to feel kissed by the end of a Montreal summer, looking up through the city trees at dusk while sharing a bike with the one you love. It's the perfect escape. — Holly Gordon


'Off the Table,' Ariana Grande feat. the Weeknd 

"Will I ever love the same way again?" Ariana Grande asks at the beginning of "Off the Table," her latest collaboration with the Weeknd. It's a question that Grande has grappled with for quite some time, both in real life and in her music. To move on from a great love is a big feat, and on this ballad, Grande's trauma takes over at times as she piles on the questions, unable to answer any of them. "If I can't have you, is love completely off the table?" she continues. "Do I sit this one out and wait for the next life?" This is where the Weeknd enters as a counterpart to assure Grande that "I'll wait for you/ Even though it always feels like I'll be No. 2." While Grande may be known for her uptempo anthems, "Off the Table" is a heart-wrenching glimpse into the grief that one of music's biggest pop stars continues to work through. — Melody Lau


'Stick by You,' Zach Zoya

You might not think Rouyn-Noranda, population 41,000, would be a hotbead of hip hop, but in fact it's the hometown not only of Steve Jolin, the founder of Quebec's leading rap label, 7ième Ciel, but also Zach Zoya, whose debut EP, Spectrum, dropped on Oct. 30. The record presents Zoya, now based in Montreal, as both a rapper and an R&B/pop vocalist, and it's in the latter role that he really stands out. In "Stick by You," a warm, mid-tempo ode to loyalty, Zoya's baritone glides effortlessly over the chorus's drawn-out "try," a mantra for anyone tempted to stray. "What's the point in being fly/ if I can't have you here to witness?," he asks, the drums dropping out of the mix to help attune the ear before the chorus's catchy return. — Robert Rowat


'Black Rain,' Rhye 

Disco has had a strong resurgence this year, from Dua Lipa's pop smash, "Don't Start Now," to K-pop stars BTS's retro turn on "Dynamite." Canadian artist Rhye is also drawing inspiration from those glossy sounds, but instead of going for an anthemic hit, Mike Milosh blends a slow-funk vibe with his signature R&B stylings. "Black Rain," as Milosh explained in a statement, takes influence from "this '80s version of disco, like the way Quincy Jones was interpreting disco." Closer to the sounds of British artist Jessie Ware, who released the dreamy What's Your Pleasure? earlier this year, "Black Rain" dives into the more slinky, sensual side of disco, crafting something lush and velvety in texture. In the video, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson gives his own mesmerizing interpretive performance to the track; a must-watch/listen experience. — ML


'Closed Chapter,' Gianna Lauren

We've been looking forward to Gianna Lauren's upcoming Nov. 13 EP, Vanity Metricsfor months (arguably years), and new single "Closed Chapter" is a personal favourite. The cheeky guitar pluck that bookends the song gives way to a crash of sound, revealing a full electric band accompanied by a bloom of horns. Lauren says the conceptual video for the song explores "algorithms f--king up mainstream beauty standards, [and] acknowledging [those] f--ked-up beauty standards but still trying to participate in the music industry." Filmed by Nicole Cecile Holland and directed by Rebecca Falvey, "Closed Chapter" is a chilling dive into dissociation and missed connection, wrapped up in the finality of Lauren's oft-repeated last line of chorus: "It's the same old story/ that I can't tell." The cheeky guitar pluck returns, and we're left with the weight of something that broke — but also the strength that comes with moving forward. — HG


'Entender,' Evan Shay feat. Chiquita Magic

With New Normal, Montreal saxophonist/producer Evan Shay makes his album debut as a solo artist, having played with hip-hop supergroup Nomadic Massive and helmed his own jazz fusion band, Lawful Citizen. Shay says New Normal is a concept album inspired by the themes of existentialism in the 1971 cult classic Vanishing Point. In fact, one song — a menacing, atmospheric instrumental — is titled "Kowalski," after the film's protagonist. The album was recorded and produced almost entirely during the pandemic, with collaborators working in isolation. "Decisions that would take maybe a minute in the studio working together would go over email chains for days," Shay told CBC Music.

"Entender" (Spanish for understand) is one of the album's more accessible tracks with its EDM beat, gruff synth bass line and multilingual vocals by Colombian Montrealer Chiquita Magic, who affects an emotional detachment that recalls early new wave. Electric piano, played by Magic, too, takes over at the 1:45 mark, spiralling into a seemingly aleatoric vortex of notes that briefly dips the listener in a psychedelic pool before a restorative calm concludes the song. — RR

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