Hollerado – “Pick Me Up” [Listen]
We are young and in love
We are twirling through space

Like so many of Hollerado’s songs, this song makes me so happy when I hear it. They’re one of my favourite Canadian bands and they are back with a new album, White Paint, out on the 26th. It’s the follow-up to their rollicking (and brilliantly packaged) debut Record In A Bag. I was hoping they would roll through these parts again – catch them at This Ain’t Hollywood on March 8th!

Kojo Damptey ft. Canadian Winter – “Daylight Robbery” [Listen]
Every day I see my people asking for what’s been taken away
This is the most recent track from local soul artist Kojo Damptey, a.k.a Easy the Pianoman. The multi-talented artist was born and raised in Ghana and now resides in Hamilton where he is a producer, keyboardist, composer and poet, and collaborates with many local artists. Canadian Winter is featured on this track and Kobi’s verse adds just the right punch to the smooth groove. Beyond the music, Kojo’s meaningful lyrics are front and centre. I have yet to see Kojo’s live show, but I caught him back in November performing with Canadian Winter as they opened for Cadence Weapon. Get ready for Kojo’s full album, out in July.

Haim – “Don’t Save Me” [Listen]
And if I had to beg for your love
Would it ever be enough?

I’ve been grooving to the laid back beat of this one non-stop after discovering it through Sharlene Chiu at MTV News Canada. The Los Angeles band is comprised of sisters Danielle, Este, and Alana Haim, along with drummer Dash Hutton. The trio of sisters grew up being influenced by classic and Americana rock and have been given the lofty comparison to Fleetwood Mac. Danielle, only 24, has already toured with Jenny Lewis, Julian Casablancas, and Cee Lo Green. Impressive, to say the least. Haim’s debut EP Forever is out now and they are on my radar as a band to watch.

Black Rhino Riot – “The Hook” [Listen]
We drink a bottle and we feel the love
We drink a bottle but it’s not enough

I first stumbled upon this new band from Guelph when they opened for San Sebastian in December. The four-piece have a catchy indie rock sound and their first EP Truth is available now for free download. It’s so catchy, I had trouble choosing which song from it to include. It was mastered by Nick Blagona at local studio Jukasa (which won “Recording Studio of the Year” at last year’s HMA’s and is one I’d love to visit). Bonus track: Black Rhino Riot’s cover video of T-Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” (the board game is the perfect touch).

The Strokes – “One Way Trigger” [Listen]
I waited for your thoughts
Can’t wait no longer

The band makes their triumphant return this year with a new album Comedown Machine, out next month. Reviews are mixed with the first single, but I think it’s a song that grows on you. The vocals throw me off a bit, but a quick Google search of the lyrics made me appreciate the song even more. Regardless, we need The Strokes again!

Ophelia Syndrome – “Passing Time” [Listen]
Thoughts float away
But the feelings linger

I first spotted Ophelia Syndrome over Twitter where they have been really active in connecting with the Hamilton music community. They’re an impressive ensemble that blend jazz, folk, and pop/rock, using guitars, piano, cello, lap steel, trumpet, all sorts of percussion, and more. The result is a rich, smooth sound with lovely vocals. Their jazzy sound is a refreshing change to what I usually listen to. This track is off their album All Things Forgotten, released last year. It was recorded at Catherine North, which I recently visited and was produced by Michael Chambers a.k.a moon:and:6, who gave me a tour of the space.

Illitry – “Goshen” [Listen]
I searched for meaning
You’re mine

Illitry quickly became one of my favourite local bands last year. Their debut album is one of my most anticipated for 2013 and if the first released track is any indication what we’re in for, it’s going to be amazing. No pressure, fellas. I’m just so excited about this band what they’re working on at Threshold with Michael Keire. I was lucky enough to get to drop by the studio and get a peek at their progress. Catch their next show opening for Shout Out Out Out Out at Casbah on March 25th.

City & The Sea. Photo from official website.
City & The Sea. Photo from official website.

City And The Sea – “Strange Feeling” [Listen]
I wanna be here when the morning comes
This Hamilton band has been steadily making their mark and gaining fans over the past few years. With tours in Canada and Europe, 3 releases under their belt, and a new lineup, City & The Sea are ready to let loose their newest EP, Action Figures. It was recorded, where else, but at Threshold with Michael Keire, where some of my favourite local tunes are being made lately. I look forward to catching their live set again, having only seen them once. Come celebrate their EP Release on the 22nd at Club Absinthe along with guests The Great Machine and Electric Sleep.

Saint Alvia – “Define Me” [Listen]
You got to love all life’s hate
And sing along with the songs
That keep telling us
To keep marching on
Shout it out from inside
Take every moment in stride

Burlington’s Saint Alvia just released their new album Static Psalms, their first in a few years. The local favourites have been through a lot as a band, going through changes in the lineup, but are back and stronger than ever. I was on board right from the album’s opener, “When I Die,” which reminds me of The Black Keys. Their sound blends blues and punk rock and is full of stomping rhythms, gang vocals, and heavy guitar riffs. They’re also the band behind the annual music fest Burly Calling, which I checked out for the first time last year.

Lady Gaga – “Yoü and I” [Listen]
You taste like whiskey when you kiss me, oh
I’d give anything again to be your baby doll
This time I’m not leaving without you

Sadly, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball was supposed to touch down in Hamilton, but the tour has now been cancelled. I’m sending my best wishes to Gaga for a speedy recovery and have to include a track by Mother Monster. Born This Way is full of dance-pop hits, but this one was an unexpected inclusion with its country groove. I love her vocals on it and it’s something I’d like to hear her do more of. Paws up!

– Kristin

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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