Hamilton-based singer-songwriter Bianca Bernardi is a seasoned performer, having honed her skills onstage for years. All the while, her debut album Wildfire, was a long time in the making. Released this past November, Bianca was excited to finally get these original songs out into the wild. The singer finds her signature sound so beautifully; her strong vocals and lyrics are showcased wonderfully through an Americana/country/folk style. This is just the start of Bianca’s next chapter as an artist.
miles from nowhere. is the solo project of musician Miles Evans-Branagh. A hard-working musician, you can also find him collaborating with many musicians, including performing on the road with groups like The Commoners and Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar. With his own indie soul project, Miles gets to dig into sharing more of himself. New single, “Nobody,” is one that he has had in his back pocket for a while now, having recorded it in 2016 with frequent collaborator and fellow Hamilton musician, Jason Bhattacharya.
Emerging singer-songwriter, musician, and producer Olivia Purnell has been busy sharing original music over the last few years, including the 2020 album, Louder Than Words. You can watch the creative progression and the tracks unfold as the artist shares the process on Instagram and TikTok. Always heartfelt and honest, “Inside My Head” is another lovely addition to the repertoire.
Dream pop/indie band from Hamilton, Linebeck, dropped another sparkly gem at the very end of 2022 – a nice treat to ring in the new year. “karoshi (Over A Dream)” features a catchy melody while the lyrics muse over relatable thoughts I’m sure many of us have about life, the 9 to 5 grind, and questioning the meaning of it all. After a strong string of singles last year, looking forward to hearing more from the band.
OHIP is a new project which began with Corey Wright, and has since developed into a chilled-out folk duo. This track, “Thru Your Lens” precedes two more releases, “Coffee Filter” and “Easy/容易,” all of which give a great introduction to the project. It was co-mixed with Michael Keire at Threshold Studios here in Hamilton, ever a staple for new local music! Super into it, and looking forward to watching this one develop.
Alternative band Sundried Whales has been on my local radar since they took the win at 2019’s McMaster Battle Of The Bands (where I was happy to be a judge and also chat with the band on CFMU!). They have been honing their sound with demos and a 2019 single, “Apartments,” but now they triumphantly deliver their first EP, Sundried Whales: THE EP. They also join the local Wel-Pel Records roster, which is a great fit. I always miss a few December releases by the time I put together my annual Best Of playlists, and this one is definitely deserving of a shout out!
The Foreign Films is the musical project of local singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Bill Majoros. The artist just shared his latest album, Magic Shadows, including the rollicking track, “Perfect Future,” which is described as “reminiscent of a lost summer deep in the memory.” The album as a whole “transitions between the organic and synthetic sounds of the ‘70s and ‘80s.”
Another rockin’ December release was from local indie duo, Burn The Louvre, with their debut full length album, Silhouettes. The band kept us on their toes all year long, sharing a single a month, before the main event. They describe the title track as being inspired by The Last Shadow Puppets and the end of singer/guitarist Jordan Speare’s first relationship. Jordan expands: “I am a huge fan of The Last Shadow Puppets, so they inspired the mood and the music. I had the chord progression with all the little hammer-ons for “Silhouettes” figured out a few months prior to me and my first girlfriend breaking up back when I was 24, and then when it finally happened, I wrote the lyrics to this and finished the whole song in a matter of days.”
J.K. Matthews – “Easy” [Listen]
It ain’t easy
When you’re losing your own game
J.K. Matthews is an independent singer-songwriter, born and raised in Burlington, and now frequently gigging in and around Hamilton. The songwriter shares that this new, laidback and catchy single “is about a stage in my life where I felt I had very little control. Nothing was going my way, all of my goals seemed unattainable, and I felt very isolated from everyone around me. I was burnt out and needed a break but I felt that anytime that I’d try to take a breath, I’d just fall further behind. It felt like that dream where you’re burning down the highway in a rusted out clunker but the brakes are cut.”
It was a great year for Hamilton-based pop/hip hop artist James Favron. He recently received awesome recognition, receiving the 2022 Lawson Vocal Studios “Stand Out Artist” award and being the Becoming 2022 contest winner. In the summer, he had a great collaboration with fellow local rapper, LTtheMonk with “Better Days (Remix),” and I caught the pair performing the track live at local festival Concrete Canvas. James finished the year strong with this upbeat and smooth track, “Take My Hand.”
Always a fun adventure when pressing play on a new release from Hamilton musician, comedian, and artist, Devin Bateson. The musician ended 2022 with a new album, Fishbowl. Interestingly, it’s the soundtrack to a comic book, as Devin describes, “This is an accompanying piece of music to an imaginary world lost in time.” In the mid 2000’s, he and his friend Will Thompson were “both avid comic book nerds and anime fans. So we started doing some world building creating an homage to our favourites. That world became Fishbowl.” Learn more about it over on Bandcamp!
With his musical project [zoethecat], Hamilton producer and multi-instrumentalist Michael Chambers creates downtempo, lo-fi, jazzhop. The artist shares: “I was listening to a lot of 90s Blue Note jazz remixes by producers such as Large Professor, Easy Mo Bee and Guru when working on ‘the night owl.’ I just love the sound of jazz piano licks and upright bass. This track came together quickly because I knew just what I wanted it to sound like: a tribute to jazzy 90s boom bap.”
Out of the local label Other Songs roster comes a second release from Low Chord, an ambient project from Scott Orr, which features collaborations with Gareth Inkster and Murray Heaton. The tracks on LC02 were recorded between 2018-2022. It’s a calming, meditative listen, and I appreciate the thought-provoking song titles.