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Shad, Chilly Gonzales, Allie X, more: songs you need to hear this week

Editorial Staff

Each week, CBC Music producers come together to highlight Canada's best new tracks.

This week, we have songs from Shad, Chilly Gonzales, Patrick Watson, Allie X and more. Scroll down to find out why you need to hear them.

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

‘Present Tense,’ Chilly Gonzales

On Sept. 7, Chilly Gonzales will release Solo Piano III, the final album in his popular Solo Piano trilogy. Last week, he dropped the album’s first advance track, “Present Tense,” a fun re-imagining in ⅞ time of J.S. Bach’s Prelude in C Minor, BWV 847. In typical Gonzo fashion, he zeroes in on the original’s minimalist elements and elaborates on them, adding a layer of wistfulness to the austerity of the minor mode. It’s both clever and entertaining and has got us impatient for the album’s remaining 14 tracks.

— Robert Rowat

‘Melody Noir,’ Patrick Watson

We’re still waiting to hear when Patrick Watson might have a new album out, but “Melody Noir” is a good gift in the meantime. Never one to hit lightly on heartache, Watson describes the new track as “a love song dedicated to the hole inside of you,” and his gentle singing overtop a steady guitar strum — with a sound inspired by Venezuelan singer Simon Diaz — make an apt lullaby for that empty feeling. When Broken Social Scene’s Ariel Engle harmonizes with Watson in the song’s buildup, it’s impossible not to be moved.

Watson and Brigitte Poupart co-directed the video, a black-and-white performance by a Colombian dance troupe, filmed in Montreal last spring. “I wanted to make a sensual but surreal dance video, where the main character slowly gets eaten by a void, embodied by the other dancers,” explains Watson. It’s a beautiful — and not as bleak as it sounds — accompaniment to the song. Watch it below.

— Holly Gordon

‘The Fool Pt. 1 (Get it Got it Good),’ Shad

Shad, on the other hand, did announce a date for his new album (Oct. 26) — and that he’s Patrick Watson’s new labelmate on Montreal-based Secret City Records. "Damn, it feels good to be back/ damn, it feels good to be Black," Shad raps on “The Fool Pt. 1,” the lead single from A Short Story About a War, the rapper’s first new album since 2013's Flying Colours (though he released an R&B album in 2016 under the name Your Boy Tony Braxton). With a playful mix of synth, drums and piano, Shad eagerly introduces us to his new album’s character, the Fool, “a central character on Shad’s upcoming album, a concept record set in a fictional war zone,” explained Justin Broadbent, who directed the video for the single. “The style [of the video] cannot be passed off as cocky or bougie — it’s just Shad, ‘o add-ons or code names.” It feels good to have Shad back. — HG

'Not So Bad in LA,' Allie X

Oakville, Ontario-born, L.A.-based pop singer Allie X oozes nonchalance in this Lana Del Rey-sounding ode to the star-studded mecca she’s called home for almost five years. While there’s a darkness to her realization ("In a city that lives while its bright stars die/ and you start to get old when you turn 25”), the singer finds solace in cooing about the low-hanging fruit — lemon trees, cheap parking, blue skies — which make La La Land, well, not so bad.

— Jess Huddleston

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