Arkells. Photo by Matt Barnes.

By Kristin Archer

Arkells – “People’s Champ” [Listen]
You do nothing every year
But showing up on the red carpet
I’m looking for the people’s champ
Arkells deliver another banger just in time for summer. The Motown-infused, anthemic, politically-driven rock tune is the first single off their fifth studio album, due out later this year. While we await the new release we’ll be treated to this song live at Arkells’ biggest hometown show to date – headlining Tim Hortons Field on July 23 alongside Ellevator, Bishop Briggs and Cold War Kids. The band has already raised over $18K through ticket sales for this show (“The Rally”) that will be donated to Refuge: Hamilton Centre for Newcomer Health. See you there!

Arkells. Photo by Matt Barnes.
Arkells. Photo by Matt Barnes.

Slowcoaches – “Found Down” [Listen]
You say you wanna be around
You never show up, show up
Local label Sonic Unyon expands their roster across the pond with their new signing, Slowcoaches from London, UK. With this announcement comes a new EP from the band plus a re-issue of their debut album Nothing Gives. If, like me, this track is your first introduction to the band, you’ll also be wanting to dig digger into the rest of their discography. This song is for cranking up, and pumping you up before you head out into the world to raise a little hell.

Basement Revolver – “Baby” [Listen]
Just give me some time
This new single from one of my favourite Hamilton bands, Basement Revolver, popped up on my Twitter feed while I was on the GO Bus, and I immediately threw my earbuds in to listen. Instant chills! With each new release, they’re a drop-everything-you’re-doing-and-listen-right-now kinda band. Their EP Agatha was one of my favourite local releases last year, and it’s safe to say their first full-length, Heavy Eyes, to be released on August 24, will chart high again this year. In a perfect move, the band is also now part of the Sonic Unyon family.

Vocalist and guitarist Chrisy Hurn explains the song’s sentiment – that while you can feel happy overall, sometimes a tidal wave of sadness can seep in at any moment. “It is also about my tendency to retreat when things get too overwhelming, to spend all day and night in my bed and watching netflix and eating doritos,” explains Chrisy.

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

Whiplash Girlchild – “Walden” [Listen]
Walden as the seasons change
Walden rattle, shake the cage

When this one slid into my inbox from local label Maisonneuve Music, I was already a fan by the song’s title, alone. This psych-folk outfit has brothers Lucas and Ezra Tennen at its core with rotating musicians to round it out. The song completely delivers from what I would expect from the name. The band says: “’Walden’ is a collision of two worlds: the isolation felt in the novel of the same name, in the cabin in the woods, and the isolation present in [our] home city of Toronto.” It’s the perfect soundtrack to bliss out to this summer.

M. Grig – “Others” [Listen]
M. Grig (Mike Grigoni) releases a beautiful three-song EP, Millpond Way, his third project with local label Other Songs. The instrumental folk EP was recorded and mixed at home by M. Grig in Durham, North Carolina. A composer and multi-instrumentalist who plays dobro, lap steel and pedal steel guitar, the EP is a lowkey Americana with a cinematic quality, destined the score the perfect scene. Bonus listen: be sure to check out Other Songs’ brand new podcast featuring conversations with independent record labels – Other Record Labels – a super interesting listen for music fans.

Scott Orr – “No Phone” [Listen]
I want to listen to you closely
I want to listen to you only
Even though this new Scott Orr tune didn’t drop until May 25, it was already being played frequently on 93.3 CFMU (get a sneak listen in my most recent episode!). I can picture listening to this one outdoors on a starry summer night, lying in the grass. The song leads the way for Scott’s sixth full-length album to come this fall.

Scott Orr. Official photo.
Scott Orr. Official photo.

Twin Within with HPO – “Night Danger” [Listen]
That’s the way it always goes
HPO has hosted some exciting collaborations with local musicians for their Indie Series, so when I found out not only would they be doing one with Twin Within, but a live album as well, I was really pumped. This Live Off The Floor record features almost every track off Twin Within’s debut Horizontal Lines, with Kirk Starkey and members of the HPO added to the mix. Steve McKay and Alex Samaras’ magical vocals are elevated all the more by the classical instrumentation, plus the environment – the album was recorded onstage at historic Hamilton Place.

Laura Cole – “Piece Of Paradise” [Listen]
It’s not that far
Our shangri-la
Always one of my favourite gals on the local scene, Laura Cole back with “Piece Of Paradise,” the dreamy titled track off her second full-length record. The album is out September 21 (Laura’s birthday!) but we will be treated to a special pre-release show on June 2 at The Music Hall (New Vision United). With the price of admission you’ll score the vinyl and download code. This is a record you’ll want on vinyl – to gently drop the needle down and kick back with a smooth cocktail (with a little umbrella garnish, of course), and be swept away by the soulful, island sounds of this first track.

Laura Cole. Official photo.
Laura Cole. Official photo.

Sampson – “Damned” [Listen]
Damned if I leave
Damned if I stay
Damned anyway
Sampson is a mysterious new artist on my radar from Halifax. Her debut release Dark Sky Nights is out now and dark, broody singles “Damned” and “Born In The North” first caught my attention. Both were produced by musicians I am big fans of, The Balconies (Jacquie Neville and Liam Jaeger), who parted ways as a band earlier this year but have promising careers ahead with new projects including this one. I’m intrigued, and look forward to learning more about the artist.

Lowell – “War Face” [Listen]
All of my horses
And all of my men
Couldn’t put us back together again
I’ve easily found one of my Summer 2018 bangers! I’ve missed Lowell. Since I started DJing, her debut full-length We Loved Her Dearly (2014) has been a favourite of mine to play. Now it’s time to dive into her sophomore Lone Wolf and I was 100% onboard right from the claps and pulsating beats of this first track. My gals of Diamond DJ Collective and I are on a rotation at Toast Wine Bar every Monday for MEGA Mondays – come visit me next on May 28 and I guarantee I’ll be playing this one with a glass of wine at the ready.

Poesy – “All Or Nothing” [Listen]
And I want all or nothing
And I’ll get what I want
Singer-songwriter Poesy flew onto my radar (and the rest of Canada!) after a winning episode on CTV music show The Launch, which saw up-and-coming Canadian talented be guided by industry professionals. Although her major hit single “Soldier Of Love” is what thrust her further into the national spotlight, it was a pleasure to discover Poesy’s EP The Spotless Mind. Poesy is a fantastic songwriter whose thoughtful lyrics are heavily influenced by the literary world. She also has impressively powerful vocals, with a quality that reminds of me of my favourite artist Florence and the Machine.

Poesy’s recent show at The Zoetic was absolutely fantastic – high energy, entertaining band, new songs, wardrobe change, handwritten lyrics for the audience, empowering messages to leave us with, and even an Arcade Fire cover. We’ll see Poesy next on June 30 at Mills Hardware with Mountain Of Wolves.

Poesy. Photo by Chelsea Brimstin.
Poesy. Photo by Chelsea Brimstin.

Sweet Virginias – “Don’t You Know” [Listen]
You still think of me as I was back then
Local rockers Sweet Virginias released a new EP this spring – Everything Until Now was mixed by Michael Keire at Threshold Recording Studio and mastered by Brian Lucey (Arctic Monkeys, Black Keys) at Magic Garden Mastering. The band celebrates the EP’s release on May 25 at The Casbah with friends Jeff and The Campers, Jason Bhattacharya, and Delta Days. That’s a solid rock’n’roll bill, right there! We’ll also see Sweet Virginias rock the rooftop at Dr. Disc for Raise the Roof on July 13.

Run Maggie Run – “Endlessly” [Listen]
You and I
Sing in time
Run Maggie Run has been working the local scene for the past three years – first starting as a solo project belonging to singer/rhythm guitarist Gavin Rees before he joined forces with the other band members. A lineup change evolved the band once more, and now the band is really off to the races. The band says of their new single: “We wrote this tune during the first few months following the lineup change, and the success of writing it definitely helped push us through that awkward, transitional phase. Arguably, it’s what gave us the confidence to keep moving forward.” Check out the video for the new song.

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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