Arkells – “Years In The Making” [Listen]
I see it in your eyes
There’s something you believe
Ever since hometown heroes Arkells brought us the epic concert experience of The Rally back in June 2018, fans were hoping we’d get to do it all again. The band delivers, with the return of The Rally at Tim Hortons Field on June 20! Along with them, it’s a stacked, hand-picked lineup of Bleachers, K.Flay, and Haviah Mighty. While we await to big day, we get a new Arkells single to jam to.

Jessy Lanza – “Lick In Heaven” [Listen]
I can’t stop spinning

Can’t stop spinning
When Jessy Lanza releases new music, you drop whatever you’re doing and press play on that bop! So excited for this next phase of the artist – her much-anticipated third album is on the way this year. Jessy says of the new single: “This song is about being angry with people and not knowing what to do about it. I find that when I’m a certain combo of sad and angry I reach a point of provocation where I can’t stop myself from going nuclear.” We can channel those emotions and shake it to this shimmery song. On her upcoming North American tour, Jessy will hit Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall on June 16.

Jessy Lanza

Andrea Mendez – “Watch Me” [Listen]
I had to prove you wrong
You thought I wasn’t strong
Now look me in my eyes and tell me what you see

A new artist on my radar, Andrea Mendez is an R&B/soul/pop singer-songwriter newly based here in Hamilton. In 2018 she released her debut EP Soul Ties, a strong collection of lovely melodies, catchy beats, and beautiful vocals. It was a soulful night at legendary Corktown Pub this month with Andrea Mendez, Nezqwik, and LTtheMonk on the same bill. It was the first official Hamilton show for Andrea, and surely marks much more to come.

Julianna Jones – “Happy” feat. LTtheMonk [Listen]
The space between us
It’s holding me captive
It’s refreshing to hear new local voices in the R&B/pop realm. Originally from Brampton, Julianna attended Mohawk College in recent years and connected with local musicians, resulting in great shows and collaborations, like this track with LTtheMonk, who also made Hamilton his home. Along with working on her up-and-coming solo career, this promising talent also teaches voice and piano.

Julianna Jones. Photo by Robbi Mcleod

Sam Holladay – “The Arch” [Listen]
The memory fade away
Still I’ll be with you day by day
My introduction to Sam Holladay came in 2017 when I was a judge during McMaster’s annual Battle of the Bands competition. They were the runners’ up, but returned the following year to take the crown. They released their debut EP Ainslie in 2018. The band is back and ready to share new material – “The Arch” was produced and mixed by Dan Hosh (Arkells, City and Colour) and mastered by Greg Calbi (Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes). The band celebrated the release earlier this year with fellow Hamilton band, and Mac Battle of the Bands winners, Sundried Whales.

Gareth Inkster – “Back Here Again” [Listen]
Soon there’ll be change here
For now there is not

We’ve heard a couple of new singles so far from Hamilton singer-songwriter Gareth Inkster this year – “Used To It” shows off a different side to the artist, and we get another new flavour with this new single, which he produced himself. Gareth says of the uplifting song: “Regardless of the specifics of your circumstance, I’m hopeful that ‘Back Here Again’ can offer you the consideration of a brighter future and broader horizon.”

Gareth Inkster

Granny Smith – “Try” [Listen]
No I’m not giving up on you
No I’m not giving up on you

It’s always a joy to watch local musician Jason Bhattacharya in any capacity – you’ll often find him popping up in various projects around town. Now we get enjoy a full solo record, A Hint Of Granny, under his moniker Granny Smith. The musician is of another era, and I can’t get enough of his groovy sensibility. It’s the ultimate record to spin during the springtime. Dig it!

Granny Smith

Jakery B – “The Sun Will Come Out Again” [Listen]
The sun will come out again
You just gotta wait
Jake Boyd of Hollerado and Girlfriend Material re-introduces himself with his first solo release. It’s awesome to see Jake move from behind the drums to striking out on his own. The sentiment of “The Sun Will Come Out Again” is just what we need right now. Spring is here – open your windows and let the sun shine as you crank this one up!

MavKarlo – “Shakedown” [Listen]
Take the bridges
I demolished
Take my 3am tattoos

MavKarlo is a new project from Menno Versteeg. Although his band Hollerado decided to part ways last year, there was no doubt we would get music in various forms from these guys. Menno got personal on his Instagram, describing what brought him to create the lo-fi Reno Tapes, as MavKarlo. It involves a solo trip to Reno on Christmas Eve. “I brought an old 4-track tape recorder and the first guitar I ever owned. The day I arrived I bought a used delay pedal and a bunch of cassettes at a pawnshop,” Menno described. “I spent 9 days boarded up in a $40 casino hotel room writing songs, playing 5 cent slots and watching the slice of America that spends their Christmas in Reno.” Menno says he left with a “healthier perspective” and worked up the courage to release what he created.

Ellis – “March 13” [Listen]
You were afraid of me
With good reason to be

No better track for this month’s mix than one reflecting on a particular day in March. Hamilton-based artist Ellis preps to release her latest offering, Born Again, on April 3. Sadly, as so many artists’ tour plans are on hold in these uncertain times, we need to support local musicians more than ever. We’re lucky we got a packed hometown show from the band at the start of this month at The Casbah, and I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album! Listen to my recent chat with Ellis on 93.3 CFMU about the recording process.

Kristin Archer with Linnea Siggelkow of Ellis

Sweet And Lowdown – “So Down” [Listen]
Say goodbye to the old world
Hello to my life

Based in Hamilton and Toronto, Sweet and Lowdown bring their blend of “Fuzzy Drinking Love Rock” to their debut LP, So Down, released in 2018. The band describes their sound as “what happens when you put a handful of 90’s babies in a room full of musical instruments, toxic vices and tasteful rom-coms.” Turn the dial up a few notches as you take this one for a spin.

King Park – “Listen Up Now” [Listen]
She said if you love me
You’d say it after all

King Park starts the year with two strong singles to lead the way for their forthcoming album, Everett. “This song questions what we really want, extending from one’s relationship to their job and music too,” says the band, adding that this first single “was the seed which Everett grew from, capturing a sense of millennial dissatisfaction – a simultaneously listless and restless quality.” Produced by Glen Watkinson of Hamilton’s Sheepdog Studios, the tune shows new sides and growth for the band from 2017’s EP The Light I Can’t See, and I’m stoked to hear more.

King Park

Buddah Abusah, LTtheMonk – “BuddahMonk (Life’s A Mission)” [Listen]
Societies are built on lies
In front of eyes
Two of my favourite local emcees join forces for a new track – it seems inevitable as these two have been vibing with each other’s styles for a while now. And how serendipitous is it that their names include both Buddah and Monk?! This song has an irresistible flow and finds me hitting repeat as soon as it’s done. Check out the live video for the track, shot by Jordan Moore, and featuring Santiago Rozo-Paz (keys), Cameron Watson (bass), Lucas Hibbs (drums), and Colin Wilson (saxophone).

Motëm – “More Or Less” [Listen]
Is there more to life
Or is life more than enough?

You can always count on the prolific Motëm to bring it. This year so far we’ve been blessed with lots of new tracks from this Hamilton staple – Waves Against The Machine (released in January) and now a new EP, Walking On Moonlight, out just days ago. It’s time to tumble down the Motëm rabbit hole!


Freaky Boos – “And Here we are Expecting a Miracle” [Listen]
Transcending the ordinary
To lose yourself in the humming air
Hamilton’s Freaky Boos are: Becky Katz, Aaron Hutchinson, and Jackson Darby. With a team like that, you know you’re in for a wild ride! Their latest offering, I’m Exposed, was released last month. It’s the second full-length 12″ release from Personal Records, the brainchild of Darby. The label, based in Hamilton and Montreal, releases experimental, pop, and dance music on short-run vinyl and digital formats. This striking last track is a breath of fresh air and one to meditate to, especially right now.

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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