The Dirty Nil. Photo by YOSH Photography

By Kristin Archer

The Dirty Nil – “No Weaknesses” [Listen]
Our boys The Dirty Nil drop their very first full length record, Higher Power, this month. It’s a big deal. This is the band’s moment and if you’re not already a fan, you better get to know them now. I was spoiled enough to get an advance of this album (released through Dine Alone), and all I can say is YAAAAAASSSS. It will rock your pants off (not just your socks). Fans of the Nil will be thrilled by the new songs, plus updated versions of songs we’re already fans of. The band just returned from their first European shows and will celebrate the new album’s release locally with two shows at This Ain’t Hollywood on February 25th and 26th. Check out my recent interview with drummer Kyle Fisher on 93.3 CFMU.

The Dirty Nil. Photo by YOSH Photography
The Dirty Nil. Photo by YOSH Photography

Solids – “Blank Stare” [Listen]
Speaking of The Dirty Nil’s hometown album release shows at This Ain’t Hollywood – you can catch a rad lineup at each one. On February 26th is The Dirty Nil’s Dine Alone label mates Solids. Unfortunately, if you don’t have tickets, this one’s now sold out. But never fear – Solids release a brand new EP Else April 15th, lead by this lead single. Perhaps that means we’ll see them back in town soon enough!

Young Empires – “Mercy” [Listen]
Don’t wanna feel like this anymore
Don’t tell me forgiveness is knocking on my door

Young Empires released one of my favourite albums last year with their first full length, The Gates. Start to finish, it’s phenomenal; it’s a record I continue to revisit. We saw them here last summer for an epic performance in Gage Park during festival A Midsummer’s Dream, and they returned this month for a show at Club Absinthe. Check out my recent interview with bassist Jake Palahnuk on 93.3 CFMU.

Banners – “Shine A Light” [Listen]
Cause I was lost at sea
While the waves were dragging me underneath

You’ve most likely heard this single by Liverpool’s Banners (now based in Toronto). It’s a gem off of the band’s new self-titled EP, but it’s no one-hit wonder, either. All five songs are impressive. We were lucky to see Banners here when he touched down at Club Absinthe on this month. It was an awesome set that was complimented nicely by Young Empires and Blajk – a solid bill of anthemic, uplifting electro-pop-rock.

HIGHS – “I Do, Do You?” [Listen]
I got tangled up in every turn
Every move that you made made my body hurt

I’m a big fan of HIGHS’ signature sound – super catchy and carefree. Lead singer Doug Haynes says of this new single, “I wanted to write a song that was honest, on going to someone’s house and dancing naked in their living room”. Perhaps mission accomplished, because the song makes me want to do just that. HIGHS’ new album Dazzle Camouflage comes out on April 8th (my birthday!!) on Indica Records. Catch the band at The Casbah on February 28th with We Are The City and Basement Revolver.

HIGHS. Photo from AB Co.
HIGHS. Photo from AB Co.

Yukon Blonde – “I Wanna Be Your Man” [Listen]
You mean a lot to me
I wanna be your man

Huge shows are happening this month (and next!) in the city. The Casbah, in particular, is on fire. Yukon Blonde just played a sold out show – if you were lucky enough to grab a ticket to see them! Their latest offering, On Blonde, is out now on Dine Alone Records and it’s a solid, shimmering psychedelic pop record. I could listen to this song over and over (and I do).

Junior Boys – “Over It” [Listen]
Dynamic duo Junior Boys are back with their much anticipated new album Big Black Coat. After my first listen, I had to immediately hit play again. There’s a reason why these dudes are at the top of Hamilton’s best! It’s an exciting time as their new music coincides with new material from Jessy Lanza – the two acts are now touring together throughout Europe and North America. That is one hot ticket. The video for this one was filmed locally and directed by Lee Skinner. Us Hamilton folk will be familiar with The Brain setting and Martin Verrall, who appears in the clip.

Jessy Lanza – “It Means I Love You” [Listen]
If you want it
Come and find my love

Jessy Lanza became one of Hamilton’s biggest musical exports when she exploded onto the scene with her 2013 debut, Pull My Hair Back. It’s going to be another killer year for Jessy as she releases her second album Oh No in May. The new album was once again written and produced with Jeremy Greenspan, and Jessy and Junior Boys join forces for a tour across Europe and North America. I can’t get enough of the hypnotic new single. John Smith of Young Rival directed the video for this one.

Jessy Lanza. Photo by Hollie Pocsai.
Jessy Lanza. Photo by Hollie Pocsai.

Donovan Woods – “On the Nights You Stay Home” [Listen]
And on the nights you stay home
Nobody says your name
Nobody talks about you
Everything’s exactly the same

Donovan Woods is one of my favourite songwriters ever and I’m grateful to the I Heart Hamilton journey for leading me to his music. I first caught him at Homegrown Hamilton back in 2012 and became an instant fan, picking up a copy of his album The Widowmaker at that show, which is still a favourite of mine. The follow-up, Don’t Get Too Grand was equally as great and I’ve been blown away by every song I’ve heard since. Can’t say enough about this guy. Donovan’s new album Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled is out February 26th – to say I’m excited for it is a little bit of an understatement!

Timid, the Brave – “I Am (Live)” [Listen]
Don’t you make this about me
One year ago, I attended a house show thrown by Other Songs Music. It was at label founder Scott Orr’s house, and he played alongside Timid, the Brave and The Good Hunters. I didn’t know it at the time, but that show resulted in the recording of a brand new live album for Timid, the Brave which would go on to be released last month. I’ve been a fan of Tim Selles’ songs for quite a while and it was a pleasure to finally hear them live at that show, and now to have this album. In a full circle moment, I got to witness another awesome Other Songs house show this month which featured Tim and Scott.

February 2016 from ihearthamilton on 8tracks Radio.

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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