Shade – “Brain Suck” [Listen]
So get around
Instead of wasting all your time
Just sitting up inside your head, man

Hamilton bands are coming in hot at the start of 2020 with some new tunes. (As a side note, I gotta say, it’s pretty cool to now see the digits 2020 next to these new releases!) It has been a minute since we’ve heard new material from Shade and I’m excited to hear a full length to follow. Shade describes this new track as being “an anthem for unrequited love,” and who hasn’t been there! Crank this one, and watch the colourful and hypnotic video.

The Bandicoots – “H.O.T.L.” [Listen]
I think I left a memory back there
I was hoping you could pick it up
You can always count on The Bandicoots for a groovy little banger. The Hamilton band blazes into 2020 delivering a new single with their characteristic swagger. Another band I’ve had my eye on for the past few years – they have been thoughtfully crafting their signature sound and you can hear their great development over time.

The Bandicoots. Photo by Lily Jiang.

Chastity – “Sun Poisoning” [Listen]
In a world bad and bleak
We could keep each other healthy

Looking back on the blog, it’s crazy to remember I first heard demos by Chastity in 2014. This project has come such a long way – 2018 saw the band’s first full length release, Death Lust, released on Dine Alone Records which was widely critically praised. The follow up, 2019’s Home Made Satan, is another great record which saw vocalist Brandon Williams “producing the album like he would score a film, aiming to match the sounds on the album to the vision in his mind.” Seeing Chastity perform at The Casbah this month was a treat and I can already tell it will be one of my favourite shows of the year when all is said and done. Our interview was also a great time – listen back to my chat with Brandon on 93.3 CFMU.

Kadeema – “Gotta Get It” [Listen]
I’m so tired of trying
Just to survive this

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a band – last year saw Ascot Royals call it a day (a band I’ve had the pleasure of knowing since before this blog and was happy to host at some shows over the years ❤️). But the good times keep rolling! Jimmy and Tal have a new project, Kadeema, and just dropped their debut single (and are working with great local label Hidden Pony). Check out the video for the track and get groovin’ to it! Stoked to hear more.

Kadeema. Photo by Denis Lipman.

Jennifer Budd – “Wait – Live” with Justin Brix [Listen]
From the darkness
Making something new

It’s always an absolute pleasure to hear the vocals of local singer-songwriter Jennifer Budd. When creating her newest work Humanity, Meet Heaven, she describes: “These songs were birthed from a place of brokenness and loneliness. I doubted and mourned what was not seen and felt.” You can never underestimate the power of music for connection and catharsis. (Another connection – I first encountered musician Justin Brix as part of the great project Gdansk.) You can also catch Jennifer as part of the terrific local supergroup Big Fir – next up they are at This Ain’t Hollywood on February 15.

Jennifer Budd. Photo by Aidan Hennebry.

deadmen feat. Begonia & E.GG – “I Could Spend A Lifetime” [Listen]
You helped me see the world in a different way
And I could spend a lifetime

The two Matts from Canadian indie band Royal Canoe make up the producer duo deadmen. For their debut single, it’s a dreamy R&B track featuring two Winnipeg artists – Begonia on vocals with a verse from emcee E.GG. Having collaborated with the pair for over a decade, Begonia worked with them on her fantastic solo material (including the incredible album The Fear). She says of this collaboration: “They’ve been working so hard over the last year producing a ton of different artists all over North America and now they’ve compiled the best songs and are ready to slowly but surely release the fruits of their labour to the world under a new name.”

Heather Valley – “Lovejoy” [Listen]
When I tell the story
I leave out how I loved you

In addition to fronting the 90’s-infused alternative rock band Another Crush, singer-songwriter Heather Valley had a busy year in 2019 with the release of her EP Trauma Bonding and full length Desert Message. Heather’s blend of Americana, indie, and dreamfolk becomes an even richer sound with her full length record, and it’s a pleasure to listen to. Coming up – catch Heather live on February 8 at This Ain’t Hollywood and March 7 at The Casbah. Heather also hosts a weekly open mic night on Wednesdays at The Casbah Lounge.

Heather Valley. Photo by James Heaslip.

Jaunt – “Nostalgia For The Present Moment” [Listen]
Got rid of that mood 
Understood the way it grew 
Said to it I’ve had enough 
We’re through

Toronto band Jaunt bless us with another lovely little nugget. The band has been crafting tunes steadily, and each one is always worth the wait. A mini tour brings the band back to Hamilton at Church of Saint John the Evangelist (Rock On Locke) on February 1 with Dan Edmonds and Essen, presented by Eternal Collective.

Ellis – “Fall Apart” [Listen]
And now you see me on my bad days
Falling back into my old ways
I can already tell from this lead single (and judging from so many positive reactions from the minute it dropped!) that we are in for a fantastic album ahead from Ellis with Born Again. Set for release on April 3, the record will be the follow up to 2018’s excellent debut The Fuzz. Don’t miss out on hearing the new song early, on March 5 at The Casbah, before Ellis hits the road to play SXSW and more North American dates.


Akintoye – “Reckless” [Listen]
I’ve been a recluse
Never really let loose
That ain’t what the best do

Whooooo we’ve got a banger right here. I first met Akintoye through his amazing work with Hamilton Youth Poets. AK has written and performed fantastic bars both as a poet and an emcee. Last year, he hit it hard on the music side, releasing a slew of rad singles and his seriously impressive first album, Indecisive. AK can deliver rhymes at lightning speed, is incredibly creative with his word play, and the beats slap so hard. Watch out for this artist!

Akintoye. Photo by Luca Siciliano.

Odario – “Low Light (In This Space)” feat. Dawn Pemberton [Listen]
Find your spirit
Go find your truth
Still a lot left
Imma find mine too

Emcee, artist, radio host, and also known for fronting the great hip hop collective Grand Analog, Odario just dropped some new solo work. He says of the lead single (featuring Vancouver gospel singer Dawn Pemberton): “I feel, as everyday people, we spend too much time and energy pointing out the negative aspects of our differences. As I wrote this song I imagined us, as community, clicking delete on what we perceive as our differences and encourage one another to embrace our similarities as humans. With that comes emotion, something we all embrace together. The gospel of anger… a hunt for an answer.” Watch out for Odario’s EP Good Morning, Hunter, out in May, and catch him on tour in February supporting Bedouin Soundclash.

Odario. Photo by Jason Cipparrone.

Miracles – “A Whole Wide World” [Listen]
The world isn’t big enough
Way back before this blog’s inception, I came across Toronto band The Carps while watching Much Music, and I was blown away (seriously, their music is still so good). Singer and drummer Jahmal Tonge went on to work on more music including being featured on two tracks on MSTRKRFT’s 2009 album Fist Of God (also tracks I still revisit). With this most recent project, Miracles, Jahmal is bringing me right back to what I’ve always loved about his music – soulful, passionate vocals, deep drums, and a groove that just gets me every time.

Give the Playlist a spin and follow it (and more) on Spotify!

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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