Emma VanDyk

By Kristin Archer

TRYAL – “Show Me” [Listen]
I want to be
Your man you see
But I’ve been wrong
Oh I’ve been wrong
Yes I’ve been wrong
If you have experienced the magic that is Alex Samaras, you know how special this album is going to be, before you even listen to it. Often it’s hard to capture the essence of a live performance on recording; it can be difficult to recreate. This album inspired chills right from the first song “IAm.” I first saw Alex as one half of Twin Within, a favourite local act of mine to see perform. Alex is an unbelievably talented vocalist but it goes so much deeper than that – the energy and feeling he is able to emote is unreal. His debut album companion is absolutely stunning.

Mount Farewell – “Like It That Way” [Listen]
So lost we can’t be found
But we like it that way
Burlington quartet Mount Farewell just released their debut EP Love Letter Home in May and are already building a steady buzz, from their album release show at the Gasworks, to playing local Canada Day celebrations at Spencer Smith Park. The EP – and their look – is super polished for a debut. I love seeing bands come out of the gate swinging. The closest comparison would be the band The 1975, which I love. This one’s a must on your local summer playlists.

Mount Farewell. Photo by Kyle Kirkwood
Mount Farewell. Photo by Kyle Kirkwood

Chromak feat. Dana Swarbrick and Brock Hewitt – “Touch The Sky” [Listen]
This time I won’t stop running
Until I touch the sky
Summer jam alert! Local EDM producer and songwriter Chromak was unknown to me, but now digging into his Soundcloud, he has a wealth of bangers in his repertoire. This newest one featuring Dana Swarbrick and Brock Hewitt is certainly no exception. We know Dana from around town as a solo artist and with her band Dana & The Monsters Under The Bed, who won last year’s McMaster’s Battle of the Bands. This electronic track is a different direction for Dana but her powerful vocals could slay anything. This track is fire!

ttwwrrss – “Almost Made It” [Listen]
We almost made it through the struggle
Weaving through all the rubble
Hands down we got out of trouble
Aint nobody hold us down
This is one sweet collaboration between three local acts: electronic artist ttwwrrss, soul artist Kojo ‘Easy’ Damptey, and producer and artist moon:and:6.

Kojo says of the track: This song explores the idea of creating a just society where love, hope and justice are the basis of interacting with each other. The song ends with a bridge that stresses the idea of transforming ourselves after we have gone through struggle. And by going through a struggle, we become change agents, thus creating a world that does not focus on “searching for material wealth”.

Emma VanDyk – “Souvenirs” [Listen]
Find the parts that gave you all the help that you could need
Find yourself for me
A promising young talent, I was really happy to connect with Emma VanDyk this year. The singer-songwriter is only just getting started but has lots of experience under her belt already, covering songs on her YouTube channel, playing the local open mic circuit, and now working on her debut recordings. Emma was also recently featured on CBC Radio 2’s Searchlight competition. Check out my chat with Emma and a lovely live performance in studio on 93.3 CFMU.

Emma VanDyk
Emma VanDyk

Basement Revolver – “Tree Trunks” [Listen]
Really tired of this fight
Basement Revolver gears up to release a brand new EP called Agatha, on snazzy vinyl, and I can’t wait to add it to my collection. Recorded at TAPE studio with Adam Bentley and Jordan Mitchell, this second release for the band is even better than their first. The gritty and grungy sounds meshed with singer Chrisy Hurn’s delicate vocals and introspective lyrics is the perfect blend. Celebrate with the band on July 20th at The Casbah as the band plays alongside Grey\\Water, King Park, and myself DJing in between the bands!

STACEY – “First Move” [Listen]
Choosing all my words carefully
Trying to get a read when you stare at me
How did it get here

What did you say dear, talk to me
I remember first seeing Toronto-based singer-songwriter STACEY when she played an intimate show here at the old Casbah Lounge a few years ago, and falling in love with her debut, self-titled EP. This single leads the way for her sophomore EP, and continues the vulnerable storytelling and romantic sounds we came to love on that first release.

Matt Paxton
 – “I Want You (All To Myself)” [Listen]
Always think of you
Every single day
It’s so strange
How we keep each other at bay

The latest from Hamilton’s own Matt Paxton comes out July 21st on Other Songs Music. It’s always a pleasure to hear new music from Matt, who takes things back to his roots with this new release. From the full band production of last year’s Let Me Rock n’ Roll TonightHunter Street Station Blues returns to Matt and his guitar. The EP was recorded live off the floor to 2” tape with Michael Keire at Threshold Studio.

Munroe – “Oblivion” [Listen]
Tell me what you see
Tell me what you see

I never loved you
But I tried
Kathleen Munroe returns with her first full length release, following her amazing self-titled EP in 2015. Oblivion takes her music to new heights – cinematic, lush, and emotional. For this collection of songs Munroe collaborated with Michael Keire (co-producer), Benjamin Muñoz, and Anthony Carone of Arkells.

Munroe describes the song: “‘Oblivion’ is a confessional, or an exploration of confession. I’d been thinking about a whack of material that deals with that territory – some kind of rupture in the space between private and public selves.” She cites crime stories such as ‘The Jinx’ and ‘Serial’ as examples. “I think there’s something interesting about a kamikaze instinct; the way we get compelled to do things that are identifiably bad. I had this idea of someone pleading a case for their own damnation, listing all the bad things they’d done, bargaining with a void, and the image of that conversation is what I was playing with here.”


Lost Cousins – “Quarters” [Listen]
You toss and turn into the wake
Do you kick it up and shake it out?
You know I love a good indie pop tune when I hear one. This new one from Toronto-based, Kingston-formed quartette Lost Cousins is just the shimmery summer ticket. It was no surprise to learn it was produced by Nixon Boyd of Hollerado/Stella Ella Ola. The band has cut their teeth touring extensively, including a recent stop in Hamilton for a gig with The Medicine Hat.

The guys say of the track: ‘Quarters’ depicts the struggle to find purpose in a life path that not everyone can relate to. In order to get out of your own head and into places where you can truly explore your surroundings, it’s often necessary to step out of your comfort zone. The song describes accepting transformation, and embracing the highs and lows that go hand in hand with experiencing new perspectives.

Livestalk & the Bodies – “fire at willy” [Listen]
There are consequences to minding your own business
Cope Street
by Livestalk & the Bodies is one of the most recent releases from the prolific HAVNrecords. The band describes themselves as “a buncha queerdos creating bombastic chorale clamour with acoustic guitars, drums and vocals chords,” with Kevin (Kevo) Fraser writing all of the songs and playing drums, acoustic guitar, baritone guitar, and piano on the tracks. It’s a fast-paced 24-track album; raw, dissonant, and noisy, with a lot to take in. The band recently celebrated the album’s release at Casino Artspace.

RULES – “The Rules Guide To The Misguided” [Listen]
I don’t like you
I don’t need to
Just give me a reason to not turn around and forget that you exist
Crank this one up. Mixing their love of hardcore and stoner rock, Rules is a meeting of musical minds – current and former members of Say Yes, The Saint Alvia Cartel, The Penske File, Organ Thieves and The Video Dead. The four tracks on this EP hit hard, flowing one into the next non-stop like you’re watching their live set. Recently the band rocked Tim Hortons Field for the epic Home Field show, opening for Teenage Head and Billy Talent.

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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