The National – “Rylan” [Listen]
Rylan you should try to get some sun
There’s a little bit of hell in everyone

The National’s new album I Am Easy To Find is a triumph. After picking up the vinyl at Into The Abyss I carved out time to give it a first spin, bracing myself for an emotional ride. After listening, be sure to watch the stunning short film by Mike Mills that accompanies the record. So delighted to see the American band back in Hamilton on June 22 at beautiful Pier 8 at the Waterfront along with Alvvays, Hayden, Jennifer Castle, and Hannah Georgas. Sure to be one of the biggest music events of the summer!

Hollerado – “Straight To Hell” [Listen]
Oh let there be a softness
Let our weakness glow
We are all your choir
Let us sing

Canadian indie mainstays Hollerado are taking one last spin with their new album Retaliation Vacation. I’ll never forget first encountering the band over a decade ago at McMaster when I saw them open for The Stills. I became a fast fan and it has been a pleasure to follow their amazing ride and to enjoy countless high energy live shows (and all the confetti!!). I love these dudes so much and I thank them for the good vibes, love, and positivity they have put into the world through their art ❤️ It looks like their last major show in the area is part of Burlington’s Sound Of Music festival, TONIGHT, Friday, June 14.

Natalie Lynn – “One” [Listen] *Edit* Jan 2021: Now the artist is under the name Loviet
Did you ever find the girl you were dreaming of?
I first heard the name of this indie pop rocker on a bill at Mills Hardware with Jim Bryson and Kalle Mattson. Having missed the show, I was pleasantly surprised to find her playing a set at Toronto’s River Bar when I was at Budweiser Stage last month to see my favourite artist of all time, Florence + the Machine. Natalie sites faves including Stevie Nicks, Haim and The 1975 – say no more!! That gives a good idea of the artist’s pop rock sensibilities. I’m on board. Her powerful vocals are impressive and it’s impossible not to want to rock out along with her to this summery jam.

Skye Wallace – “Death Of Me” [Listen]
This is a love song
For the death of me
This is a love song to the girl that I was
And the girl that I’ll never be

The music of Skye Wallace is described as “dark folk rock with shades of punk.” The Toronto-based musician has pulled influences from coast-to-coast, coming from east coast roots, having lived on the west coast, and even spending time in Yukon. Skye’s new self-titled record is such a fun listen from start to finish; I can hear comparisons from Serena Ryder to The Beaches, making her a great addition to the ranks of amazing women making music in Canada right now.

Skye Wallace
Skye Wallace

Julie Neff – “Siren Call” [Listen]
Thinking through your life
How it fits with mine
Do the parts align

Working with live music gives me an awesome chance to discover new artists, and thanks to Cinquefoil I met Toronto singer-songwriter Julie Neff. During sound check she blew me away with a cover of Florence + the Machine’s “Big God” and I was equally impressed with her vocals as she sang selections off her EP Catharsis, a really solid debut; in fact, I was surprised it was only her first release; the artist already seems seasoned beyond her years. It’s a beautiful collection of songs. Hear my recent chat with Julie on 93.3 CFMU.

Lydia Persaud – “More Of Me” [Listen]
It can’t be this way
With your love at an arm’s length
Lydia Persaud has impressed me for years as a member of cover band supergroup Dwayne Gretzky and as one third of the dreamiest harmonies I’ve ever heard with The O’Pears. Now she steps out with her debut album Let Me Show You. Lydia says: “Soul music has always affected me the most, a soulful conviction on matters of the heart. Voicing struggle or sharing joy and celebration has always been my favourite method of expression.” That soul along with strong songwriting make for a debut that is the perfect introduction to the artist. See Lydia live this Saturday, June 15 at Mills Hardware alongside her labelmate Charlotte Cornfield.

Lydia Persaud. Photo by J. Mitchel Reed
Lydia Persaud. Photo by J. Mitchel Reed

Colour Film – “Half An Hour” [Listen]
So meet me in the shadow
Of the water tower
And we can hold each other for a half an hour

Hamilton singer-songwriter Matthew de Zoete has been a staple of the local folk scene for many years. With an extensive repertoire as a songwriter, you never know where inspiration will strike. He says of the new song: “A while back, I saw two young people in a gravel parking lot at a crossroads deep in rural Ontario. Other than their cars, the lot was empty. They were locked in an embrace as I drove by in a farm truck, and they hadn’t budged 30 minutes later when I was headed home. Those people stuck with me.” Colour Film is playing a concert of new and unreleased songs (with Dan Rodrigues on keys and Kori Pop singing harmonies) at The Pearl Company this Saturday, June 15 along with HarpAcash from Barrie.

Elise Arsenault – “In The Velvet” [Listen]
This is a reunion with a ballpoint pen
A guitar
And the child within me

Hamilton is rich with singer-songwriters and I’m pleased to meet another talented songstress. Elise Arsenault is set to release a new EP, This Is A Reunion, which follows her 2016 release Unearthed. If the rest is anything like this first single, we’re in for more beautiful melodies, self-assured lyrics, and lovely vocals.

Toui Manikhouth – “Is It Strange” [Listen]
My knees can’t shake any less
But I’m so glad that we’ve met
Hamilton-based musician Toui Manikhouth is back with a brand new single, continuing to explore his singer-songwriter style. It’s quite the departure from his other musical endeavour, the Dunnville/Hamilton-based metal band Hey Clown. That diverse experience lends itself to a thoughtful approach in crafting exactly the sound he wants and makes him one to watch in our local indie folk scene.

Toui Manikhouth. Photo by Mich Chiu.
Toui Manikhouth. Photo by Mich Chiu.

Sarah Good & The Bads – “Swing Low (Knit Together)” [Listen]
Will you go out with me
Save me from my enemies

Sarah Good is a brilliantly diverse Hamilton musician you have enjoyed in various projects over the years, like glassEYElashes, Pucumber Sasssquash Family Band, and Earth Wind & Choir. Sarah gets the band back together for another fantastic release – The Glorious, Disgorged, recorded and mixed by Aaron Hutchinson and mastered by Adam Bentley and Jordan Mitchell, with really beautiful album art from Sarah, herself. I love Sarah’s knack for her signature experimental sound: disjointed yet groovy; jazzy and harmonious. The band celebrates the album’s release this Friday, June 14 at HAVN.

Espanola – “A Lesson” [Listen]
And now embrace the obvious
And turn my back on what I trust

Espanola is Aaron Goldstein, a prolific musician we have known for years as a superb and much sought after pedal steel player who has played with Lee Harvey Osmond, City and Colour, and Bry Webb. Aaron had been writing and recording for himself for over a decade and is now set to release this collection of his own work – a full length, self-titled release to come on June 28. Aaron says of this first track: “I had just moved to Hamilton, and was introduced to all sorts of new ideas about the world and my place in it,” and that the song is “complete with handclaps, a guitar solo, and the warm embrace of Atheism.”


LifeandtheTribe – “L.I.N.T.” [Listen]
I’ll be waiting on sunshine daily
Make my heart go crazy

I think I’ve just found my new local summer jam, right here! Aisha Barrow, also known as LifeandtheTribe, is a soul and R&B singer-songwriter and producer based in Hamilton and Toronto. Born in Saudi Arabia and culturally from the Republic of Gambia, Aisha draws from rich musical histories with her own influences ranging from Nina Simone, Janet Jackson, Beyoncé, and Earth Wind & Fire. Aisha says: “My work is heavily focused on telling the stories of women and in particular amplifying female voices in R&B and soul within Hamilton and Toronto.” With an EP this strong, she is doing just that and is one to watch.

Aisha Barrow / LifeandtheTribe
Aisha Barrow / LifeandtheTribe

PERSONS – “Airborne” [Listen]
Dust in the air means it’s gonna be alright
You know by now PERSONS are one of my very favourites on the local scene to watch. The electronic ensemble just keeps churning out the bangers and interesting tracks. Jackson of the band was kind enough to give me a sneak peek at one of two new singles that make up their new 7″ when he made me my own copy through his own Personal Touch Vinyl pressing. Hear my chat with Jackson all about the process in a recent episode on 93.3 CFMU.

PERSONS. Photo by Aimee Burnett and Gabriel Baribeau.
PERSONS. Photo by Aimee Burnett and Gabriel Baribeau.\

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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