LifeandtheTribe – “Type” [Listen]
It ain’t no secret
What they got you believing
LifeandtheTribe is back with a banger! Hamilton-based artist Aisha Barrow wanted to convey the collaborative nature of her music and the “tribe” of musicians and producers who back her R&B/pop project. After a terrific debut EP, Eye-sha, in 2019 (with deluxe edition released in 2020), it’s great to hear a new single. The track was written and arranged by Aisha, and produced by fellow Hamilton musician Garrett Lajoie. Aisha candidly shares about writing the song on Twitter: “Wrote ‘Type’ two years ago, since then way that I view colourism and my experience of it has expanded. It’s so easy to attach it to sexual desirability, but I’m now recognizing the ways in which I have been denied access to spaces, socially and professionally as a result.”
Michelle Owen – “Reconcile” [Listen]
I’m really trying to keep my mood up
But I’m not there yet I’m not there yet
I’m afraid you’re going to change your mind
I’ve been following the various incarnations of Toronto-based musician Michelle Owen for several years now, and I love everything she has done. Michelle is back with a brand new tune, available exclusively through Bandcamp. “Reconcile” is a silky smooth pop rock tune, showcasing Michelle’s smoky, self-assured vocals. Check out the music video.
ELIO – “CHARGER” [Listen]
Don’t wanna be put back
Back in a moment where
I’d wanna change my own mind
ELIO released one of my favourite debuts in 2020 with her EP u and me, but mostly me (plus a bonus deluxe version with some added gems including a lovely orchestral version of “LA in Two”). Charlotte hinted at even more in store with two singles that followed, “Jackie Onassis” and “hurts 2 hate somebody” which led the way to a new EP that just dropped in January. Can You Hear Me Now? is a perfect continuation from that first EP, further proving that the artist has a real knack for crafting a solid pop song.
Tate McRae – “rubberband” [Listen]
I hate that I never know
Why you’re still so caught up in my head
One of my most played tracks in 2020 was Tate McRae’s smash single, “You Broke Me First.” The 17-year-old Calgary pop singer-songwriter and award-winning dancer struck a chord with fans with the release of her debut EP All The Things I Never Said and amassed a huge TikTok following. Hamilton-based film company Black Lake directed the striking music video for Tate’s first release of the year.
Munroe – “Don’t Rush To Get Old” [Listen]
Take all the love to be taken
Until that bad heart is broken
Kathleen Munroe returns with a gentle and wise new single. The musician and actor, who splits her time between LA, Toronto, and Hamilton, describes writing this one: “I sat down to write what I thought would be a song with some edge, or regret, or bargaining. But all that came out was this well-wishing. Just love.” Watch the music video for the track, beautifully shot in King City, Ontario, and co-directed by Kathleen and her girlfriend, Sophie Blumenthal.
Granny Smith – “Ode 2 A King” [Listen]
The smooth, groovy sounds of Hamilton’s Granny Smith roll right into 2021! Multi-instrumentalist and producer Jason Bhattacharya had an excellent year of releases in 2020 with two albums plus two singles. He begins the year with another beauty of a tune, an instrumental track he describes as being “in loving memory,” an ode to Prince.
Miles From Nowhere – “Orchard Drive” [Listen]
Oh I feel the same way
As I did on the first day
I know I feel it lately
I don’t want it to change me
After an excellent self-titled debut EP in 2019, it’s awesome to hear a new tune from Hamilton-based indie-soul artist Miles From Nowhere. On this one, Miles sings of the oldest house in his hometown, his Aunt and Uncle’s place, which acted as a formative second home growing up. Miles explains: “There are special places in our lives that bring us back to a simpler time. It’s like walking into a feeling. No matter how much time passes you can go there and feel right again.” You’ll also hear the unmistakable drumming of Jason Bhattacharya (Granny Smith), who also co-wrote and co-produced the track with Miles, plus Graeme Moffatt featured on bass. Look out for live performances from this impressive musician on Twitch.
Jacob Weil – “A Couple Years From Now” [Listen]
Tell me one more time before you go
Is this the right way forward
Piano-based folk-rock musician Jacob Weil ended 2020 with his debut solo single “Feeling My Youth” and now starts off the year with the full EP of the same name. Based in Vancouver, Jacob is originally from Hamilton, and we found some mutual musical friends! Jacob has been a steady touring musician in several groups over the years including Sam Weber’s band. Sam is among the producers of this great debut EP. Describing his writing process, Jacob says “it wasn’t until playing for months on the road with Sam Weber, that [I] began writing songs for [myself] again in the back of the van after shows and during weeks at home between tours.”
Timid, The Brave – “St. Maria” [Listen]
I have followed flame and arrows
Fought to find the straight and narrow
Wound up in the wilderness each time
A lovely edition to this winter playlist comes a new one from Hamilton singer-songwriter Timid, The Brave. I’ve been a fan of this songwriter over many years now, and he has a great discography to revisit on local label Other Songs, if you haven’t yet dug into that. Tim says of this song: “It’s about being mostly uncertain about everything in life, and imagining that it’s possible to find answers in a bush, or the sound of a church bell, or a loose gathering of stars, or a weekly ritual, or a spiritual pilgrimage.”
Julie Neff – “Swagger” [Listen]
Oh we’re building his alter, showering him in our praise
And it’s feeding his sickness, driven by power and shame
Musician and vocalist Julie Neff just dropped her second EP, Over It (right on her birthday!). Although based in Toronto, Julie has taken her music to Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, building on her passion for language and gaining an international fanbase along the way. Julie describes this new collection of songs: “I want this EP to do for others what it did for me. To help put a stake in the ground, to articulate why things aren’t okay, and take a step towards changing them.” Stay tuned to Julie’s IGTV for her series Neff Said, where she has conversations around creating healthier boundaries in our lives.
Haviah Mighty – “Antisocial” ft. Old Man Saxon [Listen]
I used to run from my emotions
Now I touch ’em
I used to run from my opponents
Now I crush ’em
Another sweet track for your socially distanced soundtrack. Toronto-based emcee Haviah Mighty shares a new single focusing on self-confidence. The artist says, “This song focuses on those emotions of self-confidence that we feel inside, the desire to be alone, the desire to sit with one’s thoughts and to validate oneself. Friends don’t validate you. Once you’ve validated yourself, they can reinforce those feelings – but first, you must validate you.”
Buddah Abusah, CoolFace, Efflo Tu – “HG Walk” [Listen]
I’m with the wolves
You might hear some howls from me
The Hippie Gang drops us a new banger! Hamilton artists Buddah Abusah, CoolFace, and Efflo Tu get together for a high energy collab. Making it a full Hamilton fam, local artist Brody of becausedesignmatters created the colourful cover art. Coolface’s own release, Shinobi of Da North, is also out now. Check out the gang in action in the music video for the track.
Tripper & The Wild Things – “Picture Of The Sun” [Listen]
You’re the sun
Laser beams inside me
“Go start a band with your friends” is the message behind Hamilton rockers Tripper and the Wild Things’ newest single. “Picture Of The Sun” picks up on themes of summer angst, love lost and won, and growing up. The band says: “Sometimes, all you can do is dance while your world crumbles around you, and there’s perhaps no better backdrop for that feeling than our current reality.” The band has a new EP called Boomerang Kids coming up, and this is another great taste of what we can expect.
Felkers – “In Love With A Friend” [Listen]
After a series of demos, Hamilton’s alt rock/punk/indie trio Felkers released a great introduction to the band, simply titled EP, back in March 2020. The energetic tracks were recorded at Btown Sound Studios in Burlington. Check out the live-off-the-floor session they recorded at the end of last year. There are so many local bands I’ve yet to catch live that I will be happy to rock out to one day in the future, and Felkers are now on that list!
The Soviet Influence – “Running Song” [Listen]
There’s a sweetness in the air
Local band The Soviet Influence just released their latest album, Socialism: An Introduction. The band, made up of musicians from Guelph, Milton, Kitchener, and Halton Hills, describes the collection of songs as being about revolution, empathy, and worker’s rights. “If David Byrne, Thom Yorke, and Gord Downie were Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, they might have turned into The Soviet Influence. It’s driving guitars, quirky melodies meeting leftist fervor. Indie Rock For Your Revolution.”