Robyn Dell’Unto – “Pretty Girls” [Listen]
Tell me why all of your friends are pretty girls
Tell me everything I don’t want to know
Right from the first few irresistible notes of “Sidecar,” the first track off Robyn Dell’Unto’s sophomore album Little Lines, I was so happy that we have more of Robyn’s music in the world! She earned a huge fanbase through the strength of her debut I’m Here Every Night (2010) and this new album has been long in the making. Once again, it’s fantastic; every song is so solid and Robyn’s songwriting skills shine. She is even helping to foster a new generation of talent through her workshops, A Song of My Own. This lead single is accompanied by a clever lyric video created by Ryan Nolan.
Pharrell Williams – “Happy” [Listen]
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
How can you listen to this without feeling joyful? I’m dancing my way into 2014 with this one – I’ve been obsessed with the idea of Pharrell’s 24 Hours of Happy, the world’s first 24-hour music video. And check out this cool retrospective of the producer and artist’s incredible career: “The Complete Pharrell Collection: 1991–2013” (thanks to Kobi of Canadian Winter to drawing my attention to that article!)
Aukland – “Counting On You” [Listen]
I get so tired
Waiting on you
Aukland are a new band on my radar, but they already have several years under the belt as the previous name SEAM. The Mississauga band classifies itself as folk/rock/pop (or “frop,” as they say) but there is a soulful groove to this single that I wasn’t expecting. Guitarist Jeff attends McMaster, and I caught Aukland this month at the campus venue TwelvEighty, supporting Hollerado and Tokyo Police Club – no doubt and exciting bill for the emerging band. (Stay tuned for that blog post.)
Maggie – “Tidal Waves and Hurricanes” [Listen]
I’ve got some things I’m working out
Doing my best, but freaking out
Should I even keep trying?
Hearing the stomping first few notes of this song, I was feeling this new soulful pop song by Maggie. Maggie’s exceptional vocals can really do anything, but I love this new direction in sound. I’ve been following Maggie’s adventures from Dundas all the way to her current home of Los Angeles as she pursues her dreams. This inspiring and confident tune reflects her journey and I’m excited to see where it will take her next.
Boy With An Atlas – “Follow My Call” [Listen]
I think I’ll just promise
And hope to be honest
We’ll be alright
There’s no shortage of strong folk/roots artists in this city. There’s so much talent out there, and Boy With An Atlas is another authentic act to watch out for. The band released their three-song EP Doors of Dublin in September 2013. It was produced, recorded, and mixed by Michael Keire at Threshold Studios. No surprise that I like it, then! I look forward to hearing them live, especially this rollicking, foot-stomping, first track.
Scott Orr – “If I Am Wrong” (Illitry Remix) [Listen]
If I am wrong
With where I’m going
Then I’d keep going
Getting an early jump on things, this track is already one of my favourites of the year. Yes, I realize it’s only January, but it’s so great. Listen to the original Scott Orr version to appreciate what Illitry has done with the track. What a great pairing. Stay tuned for more Illitry remixes as well as a new single from the band, and an acoustic album from Scott Orr to be released January 28th.
Zoo Owl – “Twin Mirror” [Listen]
The decision’s already over
First impression won you over
My first encounter with this talented Toronto-based experimental electronic artist was last month when he performed at Baltimore House in his first Hamilton show as Zoo Owl. A few weeks later, I was lucky enough to have him on my show at 93.3 CFMU where he performed live in studio. That was one of the coolest things that has happened on the show so far! We turned the lights out in the studio and only the soundboard, Zoo Owl’s glasses, and his mixer lit the room. Keep an eye out for this one.
Heavy Hearts – “Between Two Mirrors” [Listen]
How do I come back from this
If I keep falling down?
I was introduced to this band from Niagara when I presented and helped to book a show this past summer at Homegrown Hamilton. Heavy Hearts joined the rockin’ bill of The Box Tiger, Redanda, and The Great Machine. The band put out their first proper release, the heavy-hitting EP Jacoba, back in October on label Indoor Shoes. Lead by this first single (and accompanying video), it was recorded out in Guelph with Jordan Valeriote (Silverstein, Lifestory:Monologue) at Sundown Studios. The EP represents the band well – exactly what I remember of them as they blasted through the walls of Homegrown back in August.
Goodnight, Sunrise – “Calling It” [Listen]
Foolish me to think I was your reason
When I was just a changing of your season
Toronto band Goodnight, Sunrise are an energetic indie rock band from Toronto. Well, “indie” is an extremely loose term with this band in particular; their sound ranges from, as they put it, “rock, funk, pop, punk, metal, indie, prog, blues, soul.” Phew! A whole lot of energy is all you need to know. They just released a new split-single D/V 1: Deaf Ears. It’s the first of several split-singles to be released from the band, which cleverly features one song written by each of the band’s songwriters – David Kochberg and Vanessa Vakharia. These tracks will tide fans over until another full EP/LP. I really like the album artwork of a shattered pink flower which was designed by drummer Paul Weaver and features the photography of Jon Shireman. As the band reflects: “The cover art and title tie together the themes of frustration, rejection, and uncertainty in the songs’ lyrics.” I look forward to catching the band live.
Sun Stone Revolvers – “On The Run” [Listen]
I discovered the psychedelic-rock sounds of Toronto band Sun Stone Revolvers last year (they were formerly just Revolvers). They released a new album in September called Spaceship X on Optical Sounds. They’ve been getting a ton of blog exposure and rightfully so – their sound stands out amongst a sea of indie bands. With each listen to this album I’m drawn in more. Now I need to double back and check out their acclaimed debut, Apocalypse Surfin’ (2010). I missed their last show at The Casbah – here’s hoping they’ll surf through town again soon.
Beyoncé – “XO” [Listen]
Nobody sees what we see
They’re just hopelessly gazing
It was a surreal moment to be able to throw to a little Beyoncé during my 10th episode of I Heart Hamilton on 93.3 CFMU. Now that was a sentence I never dreamed I would get to say! It took me a minute to get to B’s surprise fifth studio album, her most personal work yet. This lead single has been on steady play over here.
Canadian Winter featuring Haolin Munk and Sara London – “Choose One” [Listen]
My mood is bordering on maudlin
As we walk in
My warning, no dawdling
The inspired Louis C.K. sample at the start of this track gets me every time. Canadian Winter have a knack for choosing clever little audio samples. The band’s sophomore album The Snowball Effect was just released last month and made my Best of 2013 Playlist for local music. The album features collaborations with tons of local artists who make up their extended family of musicians, The Snow Beach Players. I hope to catch another show with the larger ensemble. Jazz quartet Haolin Munk compliment the core Canadian Winter crew brilliantly – it’s a perfect musical match, as heard on this song. You’ll also recognize some Hamilton hotspots in the fun video for this one.