The Dirty Nil – “Doom Boy” [Listen]
Let me be your doom boy
We could hold hands
Listen to Slayer
In the back of my Dodge Caravan
The boys are back with another song to crank out of our windows this summer! Along with fun-loving new single “Doom Boy” comes the announcement of a new album from this Hamilton trio. Fuck Art will be out later this year. Watch the video for the track which sees the band flailing in the back of a speeding van, ending with van getting trashed. Guitarist and vocalist Luke Bentham warns: do not try this at home! “Between the Roman candles, vintage mini bikes and minivan mayhem, I was quite surprised that we only had a few injuries by the end of the night.”
Lee Reed – “How You Living” [Listen]
How you’re living in a pandemic
Hamilton emcee Lee Reed never pulls any punches. His latest EP Murder Hornet Landlord is another great chapter in the artist’s fierce and politically-charged discography. The COVID-inspired EP was written in May and June, and the project is “a snapshot of life and struggles for working class North Americans coping with a global pandemic.” Further described as “part anti-capitalist analysis and part real life dystopian sci-fi rap opera.” Music is a powerful force right now for capturing this time in history, along with providing listeners with a chance to hear their experiences reflected, and hopefully to provide catharsis.
Backxwash – “Black Magic” [Listen]
I’m addicted to how I feel
I’m addicted to how I deal
Each year, I love watching the unveiling of the Polaris Music Prize Long List, which then gets whittled down to the Short List, before one album is chosen as the recipient. This always leads me to discovering Canadian talent. This year, it’s Montreal rapper and producer Backxwash who caught my attention, whose powerful album God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It made the cut; and rightfully so, it’s a captivating release. Backxwash also just delivered a new EP called Stigmata, available for free on Bandcamp. Speaking of which, Bandcamp wrote a great piece about the record God. In lieu of the regular Polaris gala, we will see a special online broadcast on October 19 that will announce the winner.
Junia-T – “Sad Face Emojis” feat. Jessie Reyez [Listen]
You’re so good at leaving me with no reply
But I’m used to this, ain’t new to this
Another sweet discovery for me on this year’s Polaris Music Prize Short List was Toronto producer Junia-T’s album Studio Monk. Chock full of energetic beats, groovy jams, and amazing collabs from artists including Jessie Reyez (Junia-T also tours with Jessie as her DJ; and Jessie also hits the Polaris Short List for her album Before Love Came To Kill Us), River Tiber, Nate Husser, Benjamin A.D., Faiza, and more. This track may have been out for a minute, but it’s still bumping strong on my summer playlist.
Jessy Lanza – “Face” [Listen]
Tell me is it just enough
Baby, is it just enough
Hamilton-born electronic pop artist Jessy Lanza has such a stellar music track record. Her third album All The Time has arrived, and this new collection of shimmery, summery jams is just the ticket right now. Although the world drastically changed since she released the first single earlier this year, a postponed tour didn’t slow Jessy down. She is receiving a ton of great press for the record, plus has been producing fun online appearances, including Pitchfork’s Instagram Live and an album listening party on Twitch.
Heather Janssen – “Keeping Secrets” [Listen]
He makes feel it
Oh, makes me feel it
No end to talent in this city! Another Hamilton artist who I was happy to cross paths with recently is singer-songwriter / pop artist Heather Janssen. I Heart Hamilton was pleased to premiere her latest single along with interviewing the artist. This sultry, jazz-infused ditty from Heather follows her debut EP Fear Of Falling, released last year, and is part of a string of new singles we can expect this year. The EP is a really lovely introduction to the singer, who made her mark first by developing a fanbase through her covers on YouTube. Really excited to hear more!
James Alphonse – “What Are We Doing Here” [Listen]
Feels like we got ourselves in a mess
It don’t seem like you could care less
Tell me, what are we doing here?
The pandemic is understandably a tough time for so many, but Hamilton singer-songwriter James Alphonse found a way to bring some cheer. Leading up to the release of his new single, James performed free song dedications of covers to “hopefully brighten up someone’s day and to bring a little positivity into people’s social media experiences. I just hope to get some smiles and contribute to bettering online communities as part of my initiative to give back to communities which have helped me to recover from a serious illness.” Paying it forward is important to James, as a chronic illness almost hindered his ability to perform, and he was encouraged and supported by the community from his university and from the local music scene. Now James has a fresh new single and sound to share, which fully explores his love for pop and R&B, and the switch in style pays off!
Julius Wilson – “Glizzy” [Listen]
Hamilton-based artist Julius Wilson is one to watch. Or maybe I’m just late to the party – he’s already got 51K+ followers watching on Instagram! The rapper has been steadily growing his discography over the past few years, and this year has been a busy one as well. The EP 2020 opens with Julius candidly taking stock in the challenging year this is, to say the least, before launching into a really strong collection of songs. Julius followed up with more singles, including this banger. Julius is also featured on Karl Wolf’s single and music video “City Of Lies” and it’s a BOP! So good, that I’m adding it into this mix too.
Arkells – “Quitting You” [Listen]
I think about you all the time
I can’t get you off my mind
If they only knew
Who I’ve been talking to
The pandemic can’t stop Arkells. This month, the band brings fans a treat with a new album, Campfire Chords. The release is a collection of stripped-back versions of some of the band’s most beloved songs and marks their first full-length presentation of this side of their music. But there’s more – we also get an original song with this heartfelt lead single. They say the song is “about finding comfort in the people closest to you,” which is a lovely sentiment during this time as we appreciate the things we are most grateful for, and all that we previously took for granted. Arkells also present an hour-long concert broadcast on CityTV and streaming online at 8pm on August 29. Next best thing until we can see them live once more!
Eric Brandon – “Good Friends” [Listen]
I can’t do this on my own
I get stuck when I’m spinning my wheels alone
Hamilton musician Eric Brandon shares a feel good song for the summer. The indie-folk singer-songwriter describes the track: “If you’re like me, COVID has you missing your good friends – those ones that you call when you need an ear to bend or someone to have a drink (or a few) with. ‘Good Friends’ is an anthem to celebrate those people in our lives; remembering the good memories and looking forward to more to come!” That’s the spirit we need right now – cheers to that! Like a good friend, the song feels like a warm hug. Watch the video for the song.
Math Club – “The Sun” [Listen]
I watched the sun burn brighter than it had in all my memories
I watched my love sink further down, a perfect golden sunbeam
Math Club is the project of Hamilton musician Wade Morrison, and all of his friends. With two EPs and a full length released already, Math Club has already nicely established their signature emo alternative sound. This new EP Major Arcana is another great chapter. Recorded by Wade in his office and bedroom, he says this collection of songs was “inspired by the major arcana cards of the rider-waite tarot deck.”
Magic Duck – “Get Outta My Head” [Listen]
But you’ve been up there so long
I’m going to have to start charging rent
Get outta my head
Magic Duck is a new recording project from Andrew Gair and Kyle Kitchen of Hamilton band Free Love. The pair wrote, recorded and mixed this new album Body Heat, a collection of catchy, short and sweet tunes. They’ve been busy cranking out these toe tappers – you’ll find three albums already recorded this summer on their Bandcamp.
Delta Days – “Jonny” [Listen]
You will not live forever
You cannot run away
Alternative folk rockers Delta Days made a splash on the Hamilton scene with their 2018 debut album A Round Town. The band is back with a new song, this time with new local label, Wel-Pel Records. It’s a catchy diddy, recorded at the awesome Threshold Studios with Michael Keire. They lean more into the indie vibes with this new one, and it suits them well. The song also features additional vocals from Wayne Petti (Cuff the Duke). Look out for a new album called Fast Forward this fall.
Fast Romantics – “Made For You” [Listen]
Baby, it’s true
The whole wide world was made for you
Canadian indie rockers Fast Romantics return with a new album, Pick It Up. Right before the lockdown hit, the band was together in California. Having been working on a ton of material, on their way back to Canada, lead vocalist Matthew Angus realized: “We had so many songs we were proud of. And we knew we had more than just one album. It was an embarrassment of riches. The world was telling us life was short. It was time to finish something.” Following that, while quarantined away in their separate apartments, “songs were divided into two distinct records over emails and video calls. The first record they would finish would become Pick It Up.” The band celebrated the album’s release on with a show livestreamed from Toronto’s Dakota Tavern.
Evangeline Gentle – “So It Goes” [Listen]
Moving so fast
That I don’t think I had a grasp
On time that had passed
It hit me like a tidal wave
Previously from Peterborough, and born in Scotland, we can now count singer-songwriter Evangeline Gentle among Hamilton’s music scene, as they recently relocated here and also work with local label Sonic Unyon. Working with the label comes the global release of their self-titled debut album. It’s a beautiful introduction to this young artist at the start of their career – filled with beautiful melodies, skilled vocals, and vulnerable, heartfelt lyrics. Evangeline celebrates the album’s international release with a livestream show from Mills Hardware’s stage on September 5.
Dizzy – “Beatrice” [Listen]
You caught me right in the middle, darling
Of feeling lighter and moving on
Oshawa band Dizzy is one of my favourites on the Canadian indie scene. This summer they shared their terrific sophomore album, The Sun And Her Scorch. The lyrics of singer Katie Munshaw are some of the best on the scene. So gorgeous and poetic, and the production on this second offering is more of what we loved from their debut, plus a lot more. For such a young band especially, they have an exceptional journey ahead. Check out the dizzying, captivating music video for the track, along with their great Liner Notes series on YouTube where Katie breaks down their lyrics, songwriting process, and answers fan questions.