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It’s that time again! Wrapping up the 12th year of I Heart Hamilton with the annual Best Of Playlist. I always say this – it’s so tough to narrow down and rank music, so you can use this as your jumping off point to discovering more local music, and show your support for local artists. This year I put together less monthly playlists here on the blog than my usual amount of roundups over the years, but I always have my ear on the local music scene on my weekly community radio show on 93.3 CFMU – which just celebrated 10 years! In celebration, I launched a new Instagram account dedicated to the show – give it a follow at @ihearthamilton_CFMU.

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, I really miss interacting with the local music community regularly – I haven’t had my steady doses of live music in years. I’m so heartbroken about that, but I am so grateful we can stay connected online and that I can keep spinning so much local music every week on 93.3 CFMU. Please reach out any time to share your music with me!

Continuing the annual “Best Of” tradition, I’m charting only EPs and albums. First, I’ll give honourable mentions to these standout singles that were released in 2023:
Onglish – “Wav Length Remix” feat. S.O.A.P. [Listen]
AM$ – “Bed of Roses” [Listen]
A Days Wait – “Indelible” ft. LISA [Listen]
Ellis – “forever” [Listen]
Math Club – “Slapshots” [Listen]
Linebeck – “Give Us A Try” [Listen]
Gareth Inkster – “Lee Shores” [Listen]
Lost Faculty – “Muddy My Mind” [Listen]
Alex Whorms – “One Day I’ll Be Gone” [Listen]
Ellis In Transit – “Kill Your Creator” [Listen]
Sundried Whales – “Socks” [Listen]
Joys – “Shaking” [Listen]
Naked House – “You” [Listen]
Isabella Chiarini – “All Alone” [Listen]
Roslyn Witter – “Letting Her Go” [Listen]
Granny Smith – “Egypt” [Listen]
Ryan Sykes – “It’s Time To Say Goodbye” [Listen]
Mrs. Louse – “5am” [Listen]
Ben Somer – “Ivor Wynne Pine” [Listen]

Let’s go!

10. Ariana Fig – Maroon
Released: February

From starting out playing violin in the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, to musical theatre, to writing her own music starting from when she was a teenager, Ariana Fig shows her dedication to her craft. Showing her musical growth with every release, this year Ariana shared her second EP, Maroon, and it’s her best yet. A well-earned spot on this year-end list!

Ariana Fig – Maroon

9. Terra Lightfoot – Healing Power
Released: October

Always a pleasure to hear new music from Terra Lightfoot! Healing Power is the singer-songwriter and rockstar’s fifth album. It’s Terra at her best – super rockin’, catchy, pop rock, melodic goodness. And that voice front and centre! “Cross Border Lovers” in particular is one of my top local tracks this year.

Terra Lightfoot – Healing Power

8. LTtheMonk – Uptown Intern #333
Released: October

London, UK-born, Hamilton-based rapper and musician LTtheMonk continues to expand his musical world with Uptown Intern #333, his fourth album. The record is a narrative, taking you through the story of The Intern, “as he embarks on his journey Uptown, traveling through the sounds and the eras, to find his own New Monk Swing.” It’s so vivid, I can picture the stage musical! LT continues to hone his craft and demonstrate how well-studied he is musically, bringing together all of his influences in hip hop, R&B, and pop to craft his own signature sound.

LTtheMonk – Uptown Intern #333

7. The Beans – I Can’t Understand
Released: November

The Beans continue to deliver! This is a group of musicians that come to mind when I think of the future of Hamilton’s music scene. In addition to this musical project, members also founded the label and collective, andthenyoudie, as well as operating the venue space andthenyou (carrying the torch from the legendary Sous Bas). After last year’s rad debut EP, F*ck it, we are The Beans, the band demonstrated their progression as a band with this new EP, I Can’t Understand, further showcasing their genre-bending musicianship and creativity.

The Beans – I Can’t Understand

6. AOIFE – when all is said and done
Released: June

Irish-born, Hamilton-based singer-songwriter Aoife-Louise Doyle (AOIFE) has been on my radar ever since her 2021 debut single, “SID.” You can find that track now on her debut EP, when all is said and done. Building off from that sonic taste from the first single, AOIFE carves out a beautiful musical space that is all her own. Her fantastic vocals could suit many different genres, but she finds a great folk-rock-pop sound here. A very exciting debut release this year, and easy pick for me.

AOIFE – when all is said and done

5. Kojo “Easy” Damptey – Radical Thoughts
Released: September

Kojo “Easy” Damptey dropped his third album, Radical Thoughts. Another one on this list that had been in the works for a while, and well worth the wait! Kojo levels up once again with this great collection of thoughtful and poignant electro Afrofuturist tracks. It’s also full of exciting collaborations, including Onglish, ttwwrrss, Mother Tareka, Chris Bruder, Tom Altobelli, Chukky Ibe, and more.

Kojo “Easy” Damptey – Radical Thoughts

4. Family Of Things – Flowers On The Wall
Released: July

Duo Family Of Things have ventured outside of Hamilton, but they’re still doing us very proud! Flowers On The Wall is a gem of an album. Soulful, groovy, shimmery, catchy, it’s like a burst of colour all around you. It’s my favourite yet from the band.

Family Of Things – Flowers On The Wall

3. The Dirty Nil – Free Reign To Passions
Released: May

When The Dirty Nil release a new one, you know it’ll end up on this year-end list! They never miss. The band’s fourth album, Free Reign To Passions, does exactly what the title suggests; the band feels more alive than ever, and having a blast with these tracks. Frontman Luke Bentham even said, “We had the best time pulling these songs together. It made me feel like a teenager in my parents’ basement again.” It’s a playful, hard-rocking batch of tunes that the band does so well.

The Dirty Nil – Free Reign To Passions

2. The Crowleys – Strange Seasons
Released: September

One of my fave parts about documenting Hamilton’s music scene (formally for 12 years now, but participating in it before that, as well!) is watching projects evolve. Indie rock/psych rock group The Crowleys is one of those, and it was so rewarding to hear this album come out, the band’s first full-length release. Well worth the wait! Described as attempting “put the strangeness of the world into words and melody,” it’s a great ride from start to finish.

The Crowleys – Strange Seasons

1. Duckai – Future Vision
Released: February

Fittingly, this album is titled Future Vision, because when I think about the future of Hamilton’s music scene, Duckai is one of the artists that comes to mind. Duckai’s 2021 EP, DUCK!, was one of my faves released that year. When his debut full-length came through at the top of this year, I knew the bar had been set for an awesome year of local music ahead. I was also so happy to catch him and his band playing an exciting live set at an Art Crawl this summer. Looking forward for what’s next!

Duckai – Future Vision

Thank you for connecting with me online every year and for tuning into the radio show, Fridays 2-3pm ET on 93.3 CFMU. Thank you to all of the artists who have shared your music and continue to inspire me to cover our local music scene. See you in 2024. ❤️ 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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