Death Cab For Cutie – “You Are A Tourist” [Listen]
Cause when you find yourself the villain
In the story you have written

This song appropriately came out right around when the blog began, as I started thinking like a tourist. I couldn’t get over how this single was perfectly timed with the blog’s launch and it makes sense to include it now as I kick off this new phase of I Heart Hamilton. The song is really comforting to me and the lyrics hit even harder, a year later.

New Hands – “Whichever Way You’ll Have It” [Listen]
The other guys, they take it slow
But I’m alive and can’t say no

Ah, New Hands. What Playlist of mine would be complete without you. I was so stoked to hear this would be the band’s newest single. It quickly became my favourite of theirs after seeing them play so many times – I couldn’t resist recording a live version of it in the beautiful Christ’s Church Cathedral back in June. Just thinking about the song, it instantly gets stuck in my head. Spence’s vocals get me every time, it’s the catchiest guitar riff, Ben’s keyboard wizardry, the glitchy breakdown in the middle – there is so much going on. The whole thing is so layered and intricate, like all of their tunes so far. The gang vocals on my favourite lyric “I’m alive and can’t say no” really add to it because, really, that’s just something you need to shout out loud (I’m declaring it the new YOLO – start hashtagging it now.) Clocking in at almost 5 minutes, the track is a gem from start to finish and, for me, it’s their best yet. The pairing of the band and producer Michael Keire proves to be magic and I can’t wait to hear more.

New Hands. Photo by Sonia Cacoilo.

Foxes – “White Coats” [Listen]
As a child my mother said to me
Don’t be afraid to lead the way, you see
And it’s only you who knows
Nobody else can see

One my favourite websites, You, Me & Charlie, introduced me to this British beauty with her debut single “Youth”. Like the previous single, this one has a sweeping, haunting quality, with lyrics that pierce through. For some reason I picture Alice in Wonderland imagery when I hear it; the music and lyrics both denote journeying down into the dark, the rabbit hole, if you will, and needing to be pulled out of it. There is something so mesmerizing about the song.

Arkells – “TiCats Are Hummin” [Listen]
I wanna be under the lights
Swept away on summer nights
If you give me your heart, if you give me it all
I promise I’ll stick around for the fall

How’s this for a Hamilton anthem? As soon as I heard Arkells were writing a song for the TiCats, in their signature style, I knew it would make the Playlist. This tune will be stuck in our heads in no time – it will be played at every game. Oh, who am I kidding, it’s already stuck in my head. All of the proceeds from downloads go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hamilton – a cause close to me since organizing I Heart Hamilton’s The Playlist 1.0. In fact, I first heard that Arkells were releasing this single through a chat with Lisa Valvasori at BGC. Be sure to show your support and download the track!

Greg Preston and the Great Machine – “Leave the Light On” [Listen]
Another young band on my radar that I still need to see live, I didn’t know what to expect when I first listened to these guys. As soon as this song creeped in, I was intrigued. I didn’t expect to get blasted with the amount of energy and volume as I did from this three-piece. Greg’s vocals in particular are really unexpected and distinct, grabbing my attention right away. Their EP was released last summer and recorded live off the floor at Threshold Studio with Michael Keire. Mike has been working with some of my favourite bands lately, churning out some amazing stuff. I look forward to seeing Great Machine live.

Peggy Sue – “Heatwave” (Martha and the Vandellas cover) [Listen]
Whenever I’m with him
Something inside starts to burning
And I’m filled with desire

I was introduced to the British trio Peggy Sue when I saw them open up for Kate Nash in November 2010 in Toronto. It’s still one of my favourite concerts; Kate Nash is one of my top artists and I became smitten with Peggy Sue too. You would never know they’re from England once you hear how they effortlessly produce an American rockabilly and bluesy sound. They take their love of American music up a notch with the recording of Peggy Sue Play The Songs of Scorpio Rising – a collection of 50’s and 60’s covers, where this track is featured among other classics like “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “Hit the Road Jack,” and “Wipeout.”

All About Maggie – “Lovesick” [Listen]
I’m under your spell
I’m captivated
But I don’t mind
I kinda like it

From the initial “Heatwave” of love to being “Lovesick,” I thought this would be a good song transition. I just discovered this local singer-songwriter when I had the opportunity to interview Maggie for a Rendezvous and she couldn’t have been lovelier. Maggie has garnered a huge following on YouTube and although she continues to post song covers, she is making her mark with her own songwriting. Her debut album Now Hear Me Out was just released and it’s packed with pop hits, making it hard to choose a favourite, and proving Maggie is one to watch.

The DoneFors – “Berlin” [Listen]
Throw your possessions overboard
If you don’t do it now
We’ll never make it to shore

I was introduced to this Toronto band as a duo when Janine and Paul performed acoustically at Kirby‘s final show (before he moved out West!) at Homegrown Hamilton at the end of August. They drew the audience in with their songs and banter in between (everyone was giggling at the name of their debut album, How To Have Sex With Canadians). Their music is a blend of folk, jazz, pop, country, and more, making for a diverse collection of songs. I left the show with a copy of their newest, Award-Winning Album (another clever title) and found out that the pair just moved to Ancaster – I welcome them to Hamilton’s community of musicians!

Rah Rah – “Prairie Girl” [Listen]
I am a darling
I am a dear
I’ll cut your neck if you get too near

Hamilton got to see this Regina, Saskatchewan six-piece when they rolled through for Supercrawl. I had to plan my band schedule accordingly, especially since I missed them last time they played here. The band is part of Hamilton’s Hidden Pony Records roster, along with fellow Supercrawl performers, Vancouver’s Said The Whale. This upbeat, tambourine-filled, folk-pop track was recently featured as Starbucks’ Pick of the Week, which is where I snagged it and have been bopping along to it ever since. My favourite magazine, Nylon, even picked up on the song, praising the band. Their new album The Poet’s Dead drops in October.

Imagine Dragons – “It’s Time” [Listen]
I’m just the same as I was
Now don’t you understand
I’m never changing who I am

Usually, I know the original recording of a song before Glee puts their spin on it, but here’s another instance where my favourite show introduced me to a new one. I’m thankful for the discovery – this song hit me right away when I first listened to Darren Criss’ take on it. The scene in which it was used was so fitting, and I found myself relating to the lyrics too – “I don’t ever want to let you down / I don’t ever want to leave this town”. The stomping percussion (which Glee nicely makes use of in their number, with the clapping and cups), strings, and guitars make the instrumental so uplifting and gives me such a good vibe when I listen to it, in the same way for me as fun.’s “We Are Young”. The band’s acoustic version is also lovely, really showcasing the guys’ harmonies.

– Kristin

Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (, where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing a social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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