Justin Ross – “I Got U” [Listen]
You’ve gotta keep love in your heart
‘Cause, man, it’s all that we got
Last month came with a new tune from Hamilton’s The Bandicoots, and now frontman Justin Ross steps out with a solo single. The cheerful track has a similar throwback charm as the band, and it’s nice to hear Justin play with his own sound. Dropped appropriately on Valentine’s Day, the toe-tapping tune is a delightful ode to a loved one.

Trixie Mattel – “Malibu” [Listen]
Never been with a type like you before
Chilled out, top down
Just what I’ve been looking for

I don’t have a better winter pick-me-up track better than this one! Drag performer Trixie Mattel is known for taking the crown on the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars (among her many other accomplishments), and she is also a terrific singer-songwriter. She just dropped her third album, Barbara, which moves into a poppier, surf rock sound along with the delightful folk music we have come to know from Trixie. I also highly recommend checking out her documentary Moving Parts, which you can rent or buy online now. Trixie performs a sold out show at Toronto’s The Danforth on February 22. If you missed out (like I did ☹️) check out her music & comedy special Trixie Mattel: One Night Only.

Trixie Mattel

LifeandtheTribe – “Capital” [Listen]
Baby can we profit
Profit from this love
Five-piece R&B and pop band from Hamilton, LifeandtheTribe, bring us a lovely new slow jam single. The band formed after meeting at Mohawk College and have been carefully crafting their sound since then, with vocalist Aisha Barrow at the helm. LifeandtheTribe started the year strong with shows at Doors Pub and Fort Elgin, and it will be great to hear more from this group in 2020!

Evangeline Gentle – “Sundays” [Listen]
It’s you that I want
Trust me, babe, it’s you
Singer-songwriter from Peterborough, Evangeline Gentle is the newest act on the management roster of Hamilton-based indie label Sonic Unyon Records. Evangeline’s self-titled album was released last year, produced by Jim Bryson at his Stittsvile studio Fixed Hinge. It’s a gorgeous introduction to this young artist – filled with beautiful melodies, strong vocals, and intimate lyrics. Catch Evangeline sharing the stage with with Hamilton singer-songwriter Gillian Nicola on February 22 at Toronto’s The Dakota Tavern.

Evangeline Gentle. Photo by Kristal Jones.

Jackie – “Unspun” [Listen]
I’ll make you jealous just for now
And you can eat your heart out

I love when you hear a song for the first time as its performed live and it just stays with you. That’s what my introduction to this song was like – when Jackie Mohr and Marc Girardin of the band played an acoustic version live in studio on 93.3 CFMU back in November. The Toronto band released their latest EP, New At Drugs, and it features this killer track as its introduction. Jackie just played in town at The Casbah and I hope to catch them back here again soon enough!

King Dice – “Red & Black” [Listen]
Red and black is all I’ll ever see
Hamilton electro-punk duo King Dice rip roar with their new EP Red Version. Released last year, you can now crank it up digitally too. George Lacatus (keyboards, vocals) and Zach Vernon (drums, vocals) started the project first by trading demos with each other and the ball kept rolling from there. The pair also deliver a high energy, face-melting live show and we’ll see them next at Corktown Pub on February 22. Check out my chat with the band on 93.3 CFMU.

Fake Shape – “Headspace” [Listen]
We’ll feel the same
When I get back again

A new project on the local scene, Fake Shape, is comprised of stellar local musicians you will recognize from various projects: Chester Edington, David Baldry, Seth Hunter, Olivia Brown, and Mackenzie Read. After some live shows locally, they just introduced themselves formally with their debut single – the warm, jazzy “Headspace.” The band says the single is a “snapshot, looking back on relationships and navigating through rose-coloured memories.” Watch out for their debut EP Night Swim, to come.

Fake Shape

The Franklin Electric – “Ghost” [Listen]
Living life by the ideas I make
Montreal’s alternative indie rock/folk band The Franklin Electric was awarded Breakthrough Group of the Year at the 2018 JUNOS. After their third official release, the EP In Your Head (2019), the band shares this new single as they gear up for a full length release this year. I’m late to the party but lucked out to be introduced to them as they opened for Tim Baker at a recent show. They remind me of another Canadian fave of mine, also from Montreal, Half Moon Run. Their live set completely won me over and I can’t wait to catch them again, this time in an even more intimate space – at Mills Hardware on February 28.

Tripper & the Wild Things – “Caramel” [Listen]
You know that my love lasts forever
These Hamilton indie rockers deliver a blend of “noisy, high energy rock, balanced by melodies that invoke their ‘90s surf rock and alternative roots, with themes of lo-fi ‘80s pop.” That 90’s edge is taking me right back! The band’s self-titled album was recorded locally at Threshold Studio and Jukasa Recording Studios. Next Hamilton show on the radar for these cool cats: April 3 at Doors Pub with Sundried Whales, Rexford Drive, and Rikashay.

Tripper and the Wild Things

Carissa Kimbell – “Like Water” [Listen]
Catch me falling
Into another dream
I am imagination
I am not what I seem

This Hamilton folk/soul/pop singer-songwriter shared her first single with the world, “Like Water,” on January 24. It was recorded locally at one of my fave spots, Boxcar Sound, with Ben Somer. The full EP is set to come out on April 22 and I love Carissa’s careful consideration of these release dates. She reveals: “Jan 24 and April 22 fall on dark/new moons – aspects of the lunar cycle which symbolize the turning inward to reflect on what is and to set intentions for the coming cycle. It’s about being and feeling and self-reflecting in the dark without seeing all there is see just yet (such as when the moon is full). It’s about connecting with the innermost depths of ourselves – our intuition and natural instinct.” The full album will father explore these themes.

Carissa Kimbell

Dave Lost – “Swoop” [Listen]
I’m not retired
But I just need time to recoup
For the past while, Dave Lost has been telling us, “See you in January,” and he wasn’t kidding! The local emcee has officially unleashed the EP See You In January into the world. He celebrated with a high energy set at Shaolin Underground to what looked like a hyped up crowd. The EP commands attention right from your very first listen – crank this one up!

Zach Berge – “Smart and Strong” [Listen]
Babygirl you know my body’s crazy
Take a look at all my muscles, baby
That is a really interesting lyric to have stuck in your head, let me tell you. This earworm is from the lead single from Zach Berge’s hip hop/rap comedy album An Excellent Time, out now. The Toronto-based comic is also one half of Dog Shirt with fellow comic Noah Maloney, and they have an impressive 21K+ subscriber base on YouTube. You can also catch Zach as part of my favourite comedy show in Hamilton – the variety show Smooth Comedy which takes place monthly at The Staircase featuring sketch comedy, standup, live music, and magic (and yours truly with a DJ set). Seriously, it’s the best time. Next show: February 27.

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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