Scott Orr – “Stay Awake On The Phone” [Listen]
I always seem to picture you alone
I recently caught Hamilton singer-songwriter Scott Orr perform at Mills Hardware on the eve of the release of this new single. The B-side from his Worried Mind sessions hit me with a punch of emotion upon hearing it for the first time live at the show. It’s now one of my favourite Scott Orr songs among a prolific repertoire (making up his own This Is Scott Orr Spotify Playlist!). Worried Mind is released now for the first time on vinyl; get it in black or a milky clear vinyl with a splash of blue.

Johnny Shay – “Gates To The Gods” [Listen]
There’s gotta be more to life than this
I had the pleasure of discovering the immense talent of Johnny Shay when he supported Logan Staats during our fall season at The Mule Spinner. Armed with just an acoustic guitar, the Irish-born, Toronto-based songwriter belted out his first ever set in Hamilton with such emotion, the whole room was still. I remember hearing the stripped-down version of this song during his striking and memorable performance. The recorded version is elevated to an anthemic, rousing cry from the artist. You can feel the passion behind every word as he sings, “I’ve gotta give it everything I’ve got.”

Johnny Shay
Johnny Shay

Rich Aucoin – “The Other” [Listen]
Thick and thin
Skulls under the skin

Always one of my favourite Canadian artists to watch, Halifax’s Rich Aucoin delivers his tour de force with new album Release. Injecting so much energy, good vibes, and love, all while enforcing the reminder of living in the now, into his live shows, this new record captures that vibrancy perhaps more than ever before. From start to finish, it encapsulates the artist so well, and it’s an exhilarating ride. The intro alone brings tears to my eyes. Find it now on vinyl through Dine Alone Records’ electronic music offshoot label Haven Sounds (I just got my gorgeous rainbow splatter vinyl in the mail and it’s the best). And check out the video for the track.

COVER PHOTO: Rich Aucoin album art for Release

Milk & Bone – “Peaches” [Listen]
Don’t know the difference between right or wrong
I don’t care
I want to feel it all
Electro-pop Montreal duo Milk & Bone release their latest EP Dive today, the follow-up to their JUNO Award winning 2018 album Deception Bay. Working with Belgian producer Alex Lustig, it’s a synth-heavy, nostalgic 80’s ride. See the band in action tomorrow, Saturday May 25 at the Art Gallery of Hamilton for the 2019 AGH Gala alongside the stellar Moscow Apartment. Watch the video for this track to get into the dreamy groove.

Milk & Bone
Milk & Bone

Dwayne Gretzky – “S.O.S.” [Listen]
You made me feel alive
But something that I fear
Already boasting an incredible catalogue of cover songs with their smash hit live shows, it only makes sense that the next move for supergroup Dwayne Gretzky is to make an album (out August 23). Having so many favourites from their set lists, I cannot wait to see this track list. In the meantime, we get their deliciously infections rendition of an ABBA classic. They say: “We started messing around with various feels and landed in this sort of dark, piano-driven minimal indie-rock world on ‘S.O.S.’. There’s so much urgency and desperation in the lyrics that it seemed fitting to re-harmonize the song in a minor key.” Watch the brilliantly creative animated video by Anne Douris.

Family Of Things – “Harm” [Listen]
Loving you is going to do me harm
But I don’t give a damn

I have really loved watching Hamilton band Family Of Things develop since the first time I saw them, and they continue to deliver! They put on a fantastic live show, as you will soon see, this Sunday May 26 at The Casbah, June 12 at Mills Hardware, and this year’s Because Beer festival in July. They have taken their time with recorded material, now releasing this new single, their first since their 2016 self-titled EP. Taking a more synth-driven approach, it’s an irresistible tune just in time for the summer season approaching.

Family Of Things
Family Of Things

LISA – “Fumes” [Listen]
You got me running on fumes
Ch-ch-ch-chasing after you
“How many balls can you keep up in the air before you start feeling like a clown? How thin can you spread yourself before you simply disappear?” These are questions Hamilton-based singer-songwriter LISA poses while introducing her new single. Girl, I can relate. Describing the new single’s recording process, she adds: Fumes’” was recorded in England on the Isle of Wight at Chale Abbey Studios. The track is built around that iconic 70’s, John Lennon drum sound.” I can’t wait to her more from this artist.

Don Vail – “On The Wire” [Listen]
I just got tired of crying
So this new album Stand Of Tide isn’t even out yet (it drops May 31) and I’m already predicting it will rank among my Best Of 2019. It has been a little while since we’ve heard from Don Vail; Mitch Bowden says: “In the spring of 2017, Don Vail received a fortuitous invitation. 2016’s Fades LP was promising enough to secure a stay at Grouse Lodge Studios in Ireland. But there was a catch—the window was not open indefinitely. There was only a matter of weeks to turn scattered shards of maybes into actual songs.” From there, drummer Victor Malang, guitarist Matthew Fleming, and keyboardist/vocalist Kori Pop were brought into the mix. Catch the band on June 29 at Mills Hardware and check out the video for the track.

Don Vail
Don Vail

Carly Rae Jepsen – “Too Much” [Listen]
When I feel it
Then I feel it too much
Canadian treasure Carly Rae Jepsen is making some of the best pop music around, and it’s high time we get another dose after 2015’s stellar collection of songs, the Polaris Music Prize nominated E*MO*TION. The artist knocks it out of the park again with Dedicated. Cue the summer playlist! Carly just announced a run of Canadian dates including September 13 in Hamilton at FirstOntario Concert Hall.

AK – “Karma” [Listen]
This is my moment
And I’m taking all of em with me
Clocking in at under 2 mins, this is a banger and local emcee AK (Akintoye) doesn’t slow down for a second of it. I got to know AK’s work through the Hamilton Youth Poets, and I’m continually blown away by the work coming out of their artists. Check out his impressive previous album Stage 2 released last year.

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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