Obviously it’s impossible to acknowledge all of the amazing local music that I was exposed to this year, but looking back on my Playlists, here are the top 10 songs/EPs/albums that I was digging the most in 2013.


10. TV Freaks – “Rewind” (Two) [Listen]
TVF Playlist featured: October
I caught TV Freaks opening for Andrew W.K. back in April at Club Absinthe, which was one of the craziest shows of the year. They released their second album later in the year on Hamilton’s Schizophrenic Records. Two snagged Punk Recording of the Year at the 2013 Hamilton Music Awards (and they happened to be sitting just behind me at the show!). This one also earns bonus points for being one of my favourite album covers of the year, as well. I may have swiped a poster of it from Dr. Disc. (Shhh.)

9. Weekend Riot Club – “Things Are Looking Up Again” (PSYCHOTROPIA) [Listen]
WRC Playlist featured: January
Weekend Riot Club had a killer year with the release of their first full-length album. Recorded with legendary producer Nick Blagona, the album snagged a Hamilton Music Award nomination for Rock Recording and Nick received the award for Producer of the Year. I learned a bit more about the dynamic trio (which has just become a quartet!) through my Rendezvous with lead singer Melissa Marchese before their colourful performance at one of my highlights of the year, A Mid Summer’s Dream. Melissa’s powerhouse vocals are unmatched and this is an album you need to crank. Catch them at the first “I Heart Hamilton Presents” event of the year – January 24th at The Baltimore House!

8. Scott Orr – “I Will” (A Long Life) [Listen]
SO Playlist featured: October
As the quietest entry on the list, Scott Orr’s album A Long Life proves how impactful music can be when keeping things simple. Listening to it through headphones is the best way to take in and appreciate the beautiful melodies and honest lyrics. After being a fan of local label Other Songs Music Co. for a while, I finally got to meet Scott in October when he was part of Raise the Roof at Dr. Disc, co-presented by I Heart Hamilton and Hamilton Magazine. There are so many lovely songs on this album, but I chose this one which has a subtle cameo from Spence Newell of New Hands.

7. The Dirty Nil – “Zombie Eyed” (The Dirty Nil​/​Northern Primitive Split 7″) [Listen]
DN Playlist featured: January
Looking back on past Playlists, I almost forgot that this track came out in January. It was incredibly exciting to book The Dirty Nil for this year’s The Playlist 2.0 at This Ain’t Hollywood. It has been a pleasure to watch The Nil keep getting better and better, in both their recordings and live show. They have steadily been releasing singles and EPs, and they also released their second limited edition summer mixtape this year. The band is set to release a new EP called Smite in 2014, lead by their newest single “Nicotine,” (also an honourable mention on this list).

6. Quails in the Nest – “I Know I’m Home” (Live at Cottonwood Mansion) [Listen]
QITN Playlist featured: August
It feels like I’ve known Mikey Molnar and Nicholas Valerio for much longer, but I only encountered the duo this year. The first time was at The Brain in January, which then let to me snatching them up to play my birthday/food bank fundraiser show, before we had even formally met. Striking up a friendship, it has been awesome to see the guys progress over the year and I loved having them as part of Raise the Roof at Dr. Disc in the summer. This album, recorded live off the floor, is a great representation of the band and I’m excited to see what’s next for them.

5. Dan Griffin – “Bordertown” (Bordertown) [Listen]
DG Playlist featured: August
We were due for some new Dan Griffin material to follow his 2011 debut solo effort, Leave Your Love. Dan took a different approach this time with a three-song EP (with an intro and outro) which serves as a full story, almost like a short film. It’s a captivating listen right from the first few notes of “The Storm.” Having the opportunity to speak with Dan for a Rendezvous upon the EP’s release, I found myself relating to the themes he explores on the record – as he put it: “Trying to overcome the feeling of isolation and the discomfort of change with the possibility of finding meaning in the people and places around you.” The EP is so well thought-out right down to the visuals, from the album art to the video for this track.

4. Canadian Winter featuring The Snow Beach Players – “Breakfast on Bloor Street” (The Snowball Effect) [Listen]
CW Just in the nick of time, Canadian Winter dropped their second full-length album in December. (Also, fittingly, as soon as they did – BAM! The city was hit with snow.) The album picks up where their debut, 2011’s Just Wait Til February, leaves off. I’ve missed Canadian Winter – my Playlist wouldn’t be the same without them. The album features tons of collaborations, including the band’s extended family The Snow Beach Players – Haolin Munk, Kojo “Easy” Damptey, Sara London, SUPA 83, Mother Tareka, Bonnie Hamilton, and way more. I especially love the interlude “CSTL Skit” which gives shout outs to various Hamilton music venues and artists. It’s very cool to hear your city represented in music like this.

3. Illitry – “Kingdom Perverted” (Kingdom Perverted [Single]) [Listen]
ILL Playlist featured: December
Illitry tested out this tune live at I Heart Hamilton’s The Playlist 2.0 in June. That show was one of my highlights of the year and I was thrilled to book them. As we patiently await Illitry’s first album, this hypnotic track shows that working with producer Michael Keire at Threshold has elevated their work even more, and it will be worth the wait. In the meantime, we were treated to a fantastic Christmas cover from the band, and I got to interview Troy Witherow on my show on 93.3 CFMU.

2. Jessy Lanza – “As If” (Pull My Hair Back) [Listen]
JL Playlist featured: October
What a phenomenal year for Jessy Lanza. Her debut album is without question one of the best local albums of 2013. Released on UK label Hyperdub, it has garnered her international attention. Jessy celebrated the release locally with a party at This Ain’t Hollywood in September, has since played in Europe, and has upcoming dates in the U.S.. I got to see her play in a couple of unconventional locations this year – in the Gage Park bandshell and the rooftop of Dr. Disc. Pull My Hair Back, produced with Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys, is sleek, polished, and sexy, and took home Best Electronic Recording at this year’s Hamilton Music Awards. The video for “Kathy Lee,” directed by Lee Skinner and featuring Jed the Dancing Guy, is also one of the best of the year.

1. Dawn and Marra – “Not On Top” (Teaspoons and Tablespoons) [Listen]
DM Playlist featured: May
Even with all of the incredible local music released this year, my number one pick was actually an easy choice. Dawn and Marra’s sophomore album has to be the one I revisited the most. Every track is a standout on its own and my favourites change, but “Not On Top” has come out, well, on top! Dawn and Marra have been a big part of the soundtrack to my travels this year: they played by birthday/food bank fundraiser, I was an extra in the Southern Souls video for this tune, and their Album Release at The Casbah in August was one of my favourite live shows of the year. Recorded at the beginning of this year out in Vancouver with producer Howard Redekopp, I am so impressed with the album. It took home Folk/Traditional Recording at the Hamilton Music Awards and also took the band to Calgary for a nomination at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. Dawn and Marra have an amazing career ahead of them.

See you in 2014!

– Kristin

Best of 2013 from ihearthamilton on 8tracks Radio.

Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (www.ihearthamilton.ca), 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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