It’s that time again, my friends. Every year it’s a pleasure to be exposed to so much local music and to be continually inspired by the talent in this city. I didn’t get to compile as many monthly Playlists as I would have liked to in 2017 but I’m grateful I can share local music on the airwaves weekly at 93.3 CFMU. As always, this is so tough to narrow down.
To continue from last year, I’m only charting EPs and albums, but I have to give honourable mentions to these awesome singles released in 2017:
Arkells – “Knocking At The Door”
The Crowleys – “LA. Sunset”
Emma VanDyk – “Souvenirs”
Scott Orr – “Violent Blue”
Also mega shout out to Ellevator, who changed their name from The Medicine Hat and are now signed with Arts & Crafts. I already predict they will chart high for me in 2018. Check out their amazing cover of Caribou’s “Odessa,” recorded live for 93.3 CFMU’s Modern Spin series.
Here we go!
BONUS TRACK: Iskwé – “Soldier” The Fight WithinReleased: November
My bonus spot for the year goes to Iskwé. The artist is Winnipeg-born and well-travelled, and now recently resides in Hamilton. Our music scene is better for it! It was fantastic to be introduced to Iskwé’s music at her album release show in November at The Casbah. The set was moving, powerful, politically-charged, and Iskwé connected with the audience through her performance. I love feeling that energy from an artist; when they bridge the gap between stage and audience.
10. Calcedon – “Cherry Trees” Echo In
Calcedon is the ambitious new project from singer-songwriter Brielle Melle. The recordings alone are beautiful, but seeing Calcedon live in November made me appreciate the songs even more when seeing them brought to life by Brielle and the band. The impressive set up reproduced the sounds wonderfully, and everything was performed live, including all the electronic elements. Echo In even made the cut on the Polaris Prize Longer List.
9. Timid, the Brave – “I Am” Firesale
You could really do a Best Of Other Songs Music list – that camp consistently delivers every year. This time my favourite release from the local label was Timid, the Brave’s second offering Firesale. It was released at the beginning of the year, and now with winter rolling back around, re-listening to the album is like cozying up with a blanket again. Tim Selles balances melancholy with hopefulness in his songs; I’ve always been a fan of his introspective lyrics.
8. Billy Moon – “Taronnoh” I’ll Push the Pedals and You Steer
Our boy Billy Moon recently relocated to Taronnoh (see what I did there?) but you can’t take that Hamilton scrappiness away! Billy Moon’s 4th EP I’ll Push the Pedals and You Steer is his best yet and it was a real local affair, recorded at Mills Hardware with producer Dan Edmonds, mixed by Sean Pearson at Boxcar Studios, and Aron D’Alesio produced the track “I W K.”
7. Shanika Maria – “Doomed” Childish Games
Shanika Maria is one of my favourite new artists of the year. I Heart Hamilton premiered the video for “Childish Games” this summer and it was a pleasure to meet Shanika and welcome her to perform in studio at 93.3 CFMU. Her debut EP is minimal and intimate; an honest and captivating introduction to the artist. I look forward to hearing more.
6. Munroe – “Fake Out” Oblivion
Hamilton-born musician and actor Kathleen Munroe is now based in L.A. but her debut full length record Oblivion was recorded in her hometown. Munroe collaborated with local talent Michael Keire at Threshold Studio, Benjamin Muñoz, and Anthony Carone (of Arkells). The result is haunting, nostalgic, melancholic and elegant. It’s a dream.
5. Mount Farewell – “Town” Love Letter Home
This Burlington quartet is one of my favourite new local acts and their EP Love Letter Home is easily one of my favourite debut releases of the year. The four songs are such well crafted pop-rock songs with fantastic melodies. I can’t get over how much they remind me of The 1975. If they’re this good now, at such a young age, it will be really exciting to see where they go. Showing even more depth, they filmed a great acoustic version of “Pills” (not on the EP) for 93.3 CFMU. Hear our chat on 93.3 CFMU.
4. Terra Lightfoot – “NFB – McMaster LIVELab Sessions” Live In ConcertReleased: February
Live albums are a rarity these days but it was a suitable move for Terra Lightfoot to release one, as she is exceptional live. But this LP offers more than just a straight live performance – it was recorded at McMaster’s LIVELab (a one-of-a-kind facility unlike anything else in the world) and Terra collaborated with Boris Brott and the National Academy Orchestra of Canada. I was thrilled to be there at one of the shows. The orchestral arrangements of songs off Terra’s album Every Time My Mind Runs Wild (2015) translate beautifully on recording. From the first notes of the first track “NFB,” I have chills already, and then the strings kick in. Terra also released a new album this year (New Mistakes) and while everything she does is wonderful, it doesn’t get under my skin like the songs off ETMMRW do, which is just such a perfect, perfect album.
3. Emay – “7th (feat. Casey MQ and EMay)” Ilah
Emay has been quietly hammering out music for years now, but his 2014 EP Sinner, Song-Writer put him more on our radar (and was one of the best releases of that year). In 2016, “Bakkah: The History of Humankind” was one of my favourite local tracks, which was followed up by a brilliant full-length release, Ilah. Produced and written by Emay and mastered by Allegories, the album also sees collaborations from Fae, Casey MQ, Kamilah, L-SPEX, EMay (Erika May), eschaton, Chef Byer, and Josh Weiner. Emay really is one of the best local artists making music right now.
2. Aron D’Alesio – “Diamond Ring” Aron D’Alesio
It was worth the wait for Aron D’Alesio’s debut solo album. The record is lo-fi and nostalgic-sounding, but while it may recall eras past, the sound is distinctly true to the artist. It’s a mesmerizing listen each time. The real stamp of approval – my mom walked by as I was playing it on my turntable and exclaimed, “What is this beautiful music!” “Diamond Ring” is without a doubt one of my favourite local tunes of the year.
1. Basement Revolver – “Tree Trunks” Agatha
Every year there’s a local breakout artist – one that really has their well-deserved moment. For me, this year that was Basement Revolver. They’ve made all the right moves – working hard, playing on great shows, making a mark in other cities and in the blogosphere, and releasing the right amount of material at the right times. Their EP Release for Agatha at The Casbah in July was one of my favourite local shows of the year (and not just because I got to DJ!). The band also recorded a stellar live session on AudioTree. Big things are ahead for this trio.
Thanks for hanging out with me every year and for tuning in weekly on 93.3 CFMU! Thank you to all of the artists who have shared your music. See you in 2018! ✌❤