GlassEYElashes. Photo by Andrés Miramontes.

By Kristin Archer

Shade – “Controller [Listen]
There he goes once again
Shade is new evolution of Pet Sun and they’re sounding sharper than ever. The local band is signed to Sleepless Records and are gearing up for big things. This first single from their forthcoming full length record has that familiar dark and doomy sound that is characteristic of the band but with even more of a groove – dare I say, it’s danceable! The reworked lineup sees vocalist Stephane stepping out in front to engage the crowd more, rather than being tied to a guitar for every song. Put them on your “must see” list during the 10th annual Supercrawl this September.

Shade. Official photo.

Bravestation – “Ray Of Love” [Listen]
Shine a little light on me
A little bit is all I need
Toronto-based duo Bravestation just dropped their new album Goddess, which follows their 2015 EP. The brothers deliver more sexy, 80s-inspired electronic pop and R&B jams. In an interview with Exclaim! they say of the record: “It was inspired by the relationships we have with the incredible women in our lives. The songs are about infatuation, heartbreak, compromise, commitment and the ultimate pursuit and feeling of love. Goddess is an antithesis to the misogyny that you hear in a lot of popular music these days. It’s a positive message for the co-existence of women and men.”

The Darcys feat. Leah Fay – “Just Here With My Friends” [Listen]
Tomorrow could be just us
And we could do this just us

Add this one to your summer jams playlist! This shimmery, disco-esque offering from Toronto band The Darcys in collaboration with Leah Fay of July Talk is a banger with a positive message that came after chatting about club culture and consent. Speaking with Billboard, Leah says: “Mindless pop songwriting often perpetuates a multitude of boring and damaging gender norms that have nothing to do with real life. We wanted to see if we could write a song about two empowered humans meeting in a club that wasn’t predatory on either side.”

The Darcys and Leah Fay. Photo by Maya Fuhr.
The Darcys and Leah Fay. Photo by Maya Fuhr.

GlassEYElashes – “Iowa” [Listen]
There’s nothing like getting pushed in the dark
Whether you’re experiencing it live or recorded, the music of this local trio of whimsical women is absolutely mesmerizing. Annie, Sarah, and Becky release a new cassette this month, Jellyfish, on HAVNrecords. It was recorded at Threshold Studio and Fort Rose Studios by Aaron Hutchinson of HAVN.  Each song is complex and layered with the stunning vocals and harmonies front and centre. You pick up more and more with every listen. This is easily one of my favourite local releases of the year so far.

GlassEYElashes. Photo by Andrés Miramontes.
GlassEYElashes. Photo by Andrés Miramontes.

STACEY – “2 Become 1” [Listen]
Set your spirit free
It’s the only way to be

Colour me obsessed with this one. Sultry Toronto songstress STACEY managed to find the ideal song for her to cover – the dreamy and gentle Spice Girls tune “2 Become 1.” The cover is described as a Tame Impala/Lana Del Rey flower child, and the mix of the two is perfection. I didn’t know I needed a psychedelic-tinged version of this nostalgic song from my childhood, but I’m so happy it’s here.

STACEY. Photo by Kristy Benjamin.
STACEY. Photo by Kristy Benjamin.

Basement Revolver – “Knocking” [Listen]
My Lord, he carries mercy
He’s knocking at my door

This has always been one of my favourite Basement Revolver songs to hear performed live – it gives me chills every single time. The Hamilton band releases the beautiful studio version of “Knocking” from their upcoming debut full length, Heavy Eyes, out next month. Chrisy Hurn says it’s the heaviest song on the record and “I think that knocking was my way out of [a] dark place.” The song is about receiving “grace, and forgiveness and acceptance” from a higher power.

Basement Revolver. Official photo.
Basement Revolver. Official photo.

Favours – “In The Night” [Listen]
You’ll never dream about all the things I dream
All through the day, all through the night
Toronto-based dark-synth quartet Favours make music about “delightful fantasies and harsh realities of adulthood” and debut this spacey single which was recorded with Josh Korody (Dilly Dally, Weaves). They say the song “is a ballad for those stuck in an unfulfilling cycle of repetition; it’s about escaping from the banality of the day and longing for the dreams that seem just out of reach.”

Favours. Official photo.
Favours. Official photo.

John O – “Ryder” [Listen]
She sent me postcards from outer space
I’m continually blown away by the talent in this city. A new artist on my radar, John O debuts his first single “Ryder,” recorded with local musician Jason Bhattacharya. The soulful song has some unexpected sounds throughout (an airplane!) and the layers of sounds make for such an interesting listen. Looking forward to hearing more. Hear my chat with John O and Jason on 93.3 CFMU.

Sam Holladay – “Camila” [Listen]
And I don’t know
If what I did was right
But there you go
Slowly out of sight

Sam Holladay are the winners of the 2018 McMaster Battle of the Bands, after being close runners-up the previous year. The indie-folk four-piece released their EP Ainslie last month. Drawing from personal relationships, the songs are all titled after someone’s name. A standout track for me is “Camila” – while it starts in the indie-folk vein, it takes an exciting turn with changes in tempo and into a jazzy breakdown. The young band has a promising career ahead.

Sam Holladay. Official photo.
Sam Holladay. Official photo.

Colour Film – “Open Road” [Listen]
You must have a secret
Something no one else seems to know

Hamilton artist Colour Film a.k.a. Matthew de Zoete releases a lovely new acoustic single featuring Caroline Brooks of the Good Lovelies. The video by Nathan Fleet depicts a chill summer scene of a bike ride out in nature, reflecting the inspiration for the song. Matthew says, “I was struck by the idea of a person you love being an open road – taking you places inside yourself, opening possibilities, and shaping your path into the future.”

Toui Manikhouth – “Open Season” [Listen]
Maybe it’s time to move on
Hamilton-based musician Toui Manikhouth releases a tune that is an “ode to fresh, new beginnings” on local label Maisonneuve Music. Toui in fact releases two renditions – one as a full indie rock offering, and one stripped down, acoustic version. Each one brings out different emotions and interpretations as you listen to the lyrics against both backdrops.

Toui Manikhouth. Photo by Travis Muise
Toui Manikhouth. Photo by Travis Muise

J. Mann – “Help Us Get It Right” [Listen]
I’ll help you get it right some day
Toronto-based singer-songwriter J. Mann has been steadily making music for many years. The artist spent six years in Spain before returning to Canada, bringing back all of the musical experience and influence gained from his time there. With his latest work, Ten Animals, the album is a lovely listen and “traces its roots” back to his time in Spain. This lead single was also captured by Hamilton’s own Mitch Fillion for Southern Souls.

Kirby – “Poor Little Me” [Listen]
I’m guessing the sky will clear
Eventually all clouds go

If you’ve been with me since the blog’s inception in 2011, you know Kirby was one of the first local artists I connected with (even before the blog!) and he has popped up numerous times on my I Heart Hamilton journey. It has been a while since I’ve heard from Kirby as he tours extensively and has been working on cruise ships, but he just touched base with fans to deliver an album of his favourite covers from those gigs. It’s always a pleasure to her Kirby’s voice! You’ll have to get in on his email list for the cover album but you can find his most recent album online, which was recorded locally at Boxcar Studio.

Dear Rouge – “Live Through The Night” [Listen]
Why don’t you let me go
I remember first hearing this track live when Dear Rouge performed a couple of years back at the local Sound of Music Festival and it stuck with me. Now it’s released as the second single off the band’s album Phases. Singer Danielle McTaggarts says: “The track is one of our grimier tracks but the lyrics are about forgiveness. Of wanting to let go of resentment and bitterness, but also to be let go of and free as well.” Dear Rouge just performed in Hamilton at Bayfront Park for Canada Day and we’ll see them back again this fall on October 14 at the AGH Pavillion for a Supercrawl Presents show with Modern Space and Ellevator.

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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