iskwē & Tom Wilson – “Starless Nights” [Listen]
I always liked my company
In loneliness I felt truly free
The music partnership of iskwē and Tom Wilson is a beautiful one to watch. The pair teamed up last fall for a cover of Tom’s “Blue Moon Drive,” and now they put their spin on Misha Bower’s “Starless Nights.” On the track, you’ll also hear Anna Ruddick on bass, percussionist Ray Farrugia, and guitarist Bill Dillon. Tom says: “It was one of these songs that the moment you hear it you get shivers. The song was a natural fit for us. It’s otherworldly.”
Ellis – “what if love isn’t enough” [Listen]
You’re leaving again like you always do
But don’t tell me you miss me cuz you didn’t have to
Hamilton-based artist Ellis shares another new song, following “hospital,” released in April. Ellis, a.k.a. Linnea Siggelkow, has such a knack for an effortlessly beautiful and vulnerable song. Each song always hits me hard, but this new one may just be my favourite yet. The musician playfully shared on Instagram: “this song is what happens in your brain when u have a pisces sun (sensitive) and a scorpio moon (salty).” I might need Linnea to dig into my birth chart because this song is really affecting me too! You’ll hear members of Dizzy and Chastity among the choral vocals. Ellis’ new EP, nothing is scared anymore, arrives June 25.
Heather Janssen – “Loving Somebody Like You” [Listen]
Your love is the weight and depths of the world in my hand
I just want the universe to know, and prove that it can
Local pop singer-songwriter Heather Janssen delivers another gem with “Loving Somebody Like You.” Heather has beautifully developed her sound with a steady pace of singles over the past few years, plus an EP, Fear Of Falling, in 2019. She shares about this song on Instagram: “If there’s ever been someone who has set your heart on fire – either in the most beautiful way, or the most broken way – this one is for you. Whether you want the entire world to know of this love you’ve found, or you’ve fallen too far and have been holding on longer than you ought to, I hope this song can speak to you however you need it to.”
Timid, the Brave – “Magnolia” [Listen]
Feelings like these come and go
Feelings like these come and go
(But I won’t)
Big fan of Timid, the Brave’s songwriting, and I’d say I now have a new favourite from this great local singer-songwriter. Tim shares: “‘Magnolia’ is the feeling of being in the moment and enjoying the thrill of connection with someone new, while at the same time knowing that feelings like these can come and go. ‘Will you love me when the drugs leave?’ In this case, the answer was yes. ‘Feelings come and go, but I won’t.'” Check out the lovely music video for the song, made by Hamilton filmmaker John Butler.
Tennyson King – “生命的进度 (Sheng Ming De Jin Du)” [Listen]
Toronto-based songwriter Tennyson King shares a new track with a great local connection – the song was recorded in Hamilton at Catherine North Studios. The song was released to celebrate Asian Heritage Month in Canada; it is Tennyson’s first Chinese single. As shared by the artist: “Re-discovering his roots as a Chinese-Canadian musician has been a long and rewarding journey. Embracing his heritage has been an important process for his evolution, not only as an artist but in finding belonging as a member of the Asian community. Tennyson believes that with the current issues relating to discrimination towards Asian ethnicities, it is important for him to represent his Chinese culture the way he knows best, through the language of music.”
Brutus Begins – “Extinction On My Mind (S.O.S.)” [Listen]
Ain’t no panic in my SOS
But my heart is getting weary
Sun is sinkin’, heavy thinkin
Got extinction on my mind
Brutus Begins bring us a brand new psychedelic-tinged track “Extinction On My Mind (S.O.S.).” They say, “It’s about living in a mad world and rising above it without being above it.” They elaborate on the groovy track: “How do you keep your kindness and humanity when you’re taught that viciousness is virtue? This song is about keeping hope and integrity in the face of a slightly insane world.”
Hannah Georgas – “Dreams” [Listen]
When you gonna wake up and change your mind
I just sit back and close my eyes
Toronto-based indie-pop songwriter Hannah Georgas delivered one of my favourite Canadian releases of 2020 with All That Emotion. A great approach the extend an album’s cycle (and keep us going until we can all get back to shows again!) is to release re-imagined versions of new material. Hannah is set to release All That Emotions Versions, which re-examines tracks off that 2020 release, as well as brings in new collaborators (we’ve already heard the great version of “Pray It Away” featuring Matt Berninger of The National). Bartees Strange collaborates with Hannah for a seductive, pulsing rendition of “Dreams.”
Dizzy – “Beatrice” [Listen]
Would you call me when you get this
I know that there’s nothing left to fix
I just wanted to hear your voice
Another one of my favourite favourite Canadian releases of 2020 was Dizzy’s album The Sun And Her Scorch. The band now shares the EP Separate Places, which offers re-imagined versions of some of its tracks and featuring new collaborations. I was particularly excited to hear this version of one of my favourite tracks on the album, “Beatrice,” which is equally as beautiful as it brings in harmonies from New York duo, Overcoats.
Arkells – “All Roads” [Listen]
You said that all the changes
Were getting hard to take
So meet me in the middle
Where we used to hang
Arkells (who just scored this year’s JUNO Award for Group of the Year!) keep the good vibes going in 2021 with another new track, “All Roads.” Phil Collins’ “In Your Eyes” is an immediate reference, and that certainly doesn’t hurt for getting the track stuck in your head. It feels warm and sentimental. The band’s singer Max Kerman says of the track: “As we start to find our footing on a road back to some normalcy in our lives the sentiment ‘all roads lead me back to you’ is about trying to find your way back home. Home could be a person, a place, or a personal truth – the goal is to keep moving, keep learning, and you’ll find your way.” You’ll also recognize local spot The Devil’s Punchbowl featured through epic drone shots in the summery music video.
Bonus Track: The band also released a really lovely, chilled out, “Night Drive” version of the song with an accompanying DIY music video.
Capitol – “Always Saying Nothing” [Listen]
We will live in modest homes
And surround ourselves with coloured walls
I’ll depart from my habit of foolish jokes
If you pray for me (I’m only kidding, don’t)
Hamilton indie band Capitol made an impression with their great 2019 debut album, Dream Noise. They return in fine form with new single “Always Saying Nothing,” bringing their signature mix of 80s New Wave, modern alternative, and dream pop. The track leads the way for their new EP, All The Rest Of My Heads, out in September, which will include a special 12” vinyl release through Meritorio Records. The EP was recorded at local Threshold Recording Studio with Michael Keire and Cohen Wiley. Check out the music video for the song.
Mohamed – “Afternoon” [Listen]
I spent my last summer in my living room
Thinking ’bout some things ’cause I’m hella overdue
I first connected with Mohamed, a.k.a. Moe Elawad, through this work with Hamilton Youth Poets. I feel fortunate to have met so many talented artists who started with HYP, and it has been awesome to watch them all continue to create. Earlier this year, Moe collaborated with Gisy Mohamed on his new single “Is That Okay?” and now Moe brings us his own debut track with a sweet, chill vibe for summertime.
LTtheMonk – “DeVante (In Your Hands)” [Listen]
Apple make the man crumble
Whatever Sam sung
Bout a thing called love
LT continues to get better and better, and this is a really a star-making moment. Describing the song: “The original inspiration for ‘DeVante (In Your Hands)’ came through LT’s love for legendary 90s R&B group Jodeci, and member and producer of the group DeVanté Swing, who was the key architect of their sound. LT wanted to make a love song that told a story reminiscent of their love songs, discussing sex and relationships and leading to the climax of becoming the best partner that you can be, for the person you want to be with.” LTtheMonk is so thoughtful with his lyrics and word play – you can dive into all of his tracks on Genius to appreciate them even more and learn more about his inspirations. And don’t forget the music video, featuring some serious footwork from LT and the boys!
Elley Jeeze – “Knock” [Listen]
I rep mine til the end
Born in Hamilton, emcee Elley Jeeze is also ⅓ of the group 2Fs (The Family, Family First), and half of the group AM. His love for hip hop and lyricism has taken him a long way, having opened up for the likes of Joey Bada$$, Flatbush Zombies, Lord Finesse, Raekwon, Elzhi, and more. Elley Jeeze just dropped a brand new track, “Knock.” The single follows on the heels of his latest album called Keep Going, released this spring. The title track of which is an uplifting, inspiring track.
Duckai – “Duckjam” [Listen]
I don’t know much about Duckai, a.k.a. Ezekai Robinson, yet, but when this duck popped up, I was intrigued! The local artist just dropped his new EP, aptly named DUCK! On Instagram, the artist shares: “I’ve decided I wanted to separate me and the music on my next project. Through the artist name Duckai I want to encourage others to break boundaries, step out of their comfort zone, allow themselves to have fun and experiment more with how they can express themselves. I’m going to allow my creativity to fully blossom with this.” With this EP, the artist is doing just that, and it’s one of my favourite local releases this year. Each track is so solid, and is a standout moment on its own, making for a really well-rounded listen. This is an exciting project to watch!
Tewksbury – “Boreal” [Listen]
Douglas Tewksbury is a Hamilton-based pianist and electronic musician. The artist just released Paths, a new full-length record of compositions for piano and electronic instruments, on Geertruida Records. Recorded in his home studio during lockdown in 2020 and 2021, he describes the record as “a meditation on climate change” and explains: “I was interested in using art to find ways to create moments of beauty and stillness in an era of mass extinction. It’s a dark premise, but one with what I think is a beautiful soundtrack.” The sounds are taken right from nature. Tewksbury describes them as “manipulations of my own field and nature sound recordings from cold-climate locations in Norway, Alaska, Sweden, Ontario, Newfoundland, and others. Some of these sounds were recorded within a hundred meters of an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland, or while standing on a glacier currently in retreat in Alaska.”
All Of Her Sound – “Innocence Lost” [Listen]
Hamilton-based musician and composer All Of Her Sound “orchestrates a collective to bring together all art.” You can find several beautiful instrumental tracks released already, including the single “Innocence Lost.” Watch a recent live performance (that is completely improvised on the keyboard) from the artist as part of the City’s Music Mondays series.
[zoethecat] – “tomorrow” [Listen]
Hamilton-based producer and multi-instrumentalist [zoethecat] shares a chill, short and sweet new track that had me hitting replay to continue the relaxing vibes! The musician describes the track as “based around a jazzy guitar lick and a flowing Rhodes piano. A vocal sample from a vintage film asks the viewer to imagine living in ‘the world of tomorrow’.”