The Balconies – “Do It In the Dark” [Listen]
If you do it in the dark, in the dark
No one sees it
If you do it in the dark, in the dark
It comes easy

I’m always so pumped to see The Balconies when they roll through the city. They are one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen and have been one of my favourites since I first discovered them in 2010. I remember the show was part of the city’s annual Spring Music Festival. “Serious Bedtime” was the first song of theirs that caught my attention and I was pleasantly surprised to hear this reworked version that focuses around the catchiest lyric in the song. The trio have been touring with Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason; it was a real 90s nostalgia moment to see them play with WMM at Absinthe last month. And, I can’t believe it hadn’t happened sooner, but I finally got to meet Jacquie, Stephen, and Liam! Come back soon, guys!

Kate Nash – “Fri-end?” [Listen]
I never noticed
What you said
You said some real mean things to me
And I couldn’t be myself

As I noted in my July Playlist when I included Kate’s new track “Underestimate the Girl,” she is one of my favourites, but I didn’t love the song as much as I wanted to. On Halloween, Kate released this song accompanied by a video that was apropos for my favourite festive season. It’s bang on – just the right mix of the Made of Bricks era Kate, with its catchy pop sensibilities, and still infused with the more punk rock edge that she explored more on My Best Friend Is You. I also love the lyrics, as I always expect to with a Kate Nash song.

Young Rival – “Better Things To Do” [Listen]
She says is it true
You and me are through
Lately I’ve got better things to do

One of Hamilton’s best bands, Young Rival just dropped their second full length record, Stay Young, and it’s one of my favourite local releases this year. I hit up their Album Release Party at Casbah on the 1st and was so excited to hear the new songs played live. The band opted for a different approach this time around, only producing the album on vinyl and digitally, rather than on CD format. If you’re a vinyl collector, you need to get yourself a copy! The album is fantastic from start to finish and could make up my whole Playlist for the month in itself, but I chose this tune because I love its groove.

Gillian Nicola – “Just Another River Tune” [Listen]
Let’s ditch this place
We can do it on our own
Because the unknown
Is so much better than what we know

I was happy to be introduced to the music of this singer-songwriter from Waterdown when she contacted me to share her music. Gillian blends elements of blues/soul/country/folk and has been steadily playing shows in the local area, even sharing the stage with favourite local artists of mine, Dawn and Marra and All About Maggie. She is no stranger to performing onstage, having grown up singing with the Hamilton Children’s Choir. The video for this catchy tune was recorded live on location with her band in Waterdown’s Smokey Hollow for Street Folk Sessions. The setting is gorgeous with its fall colours and suits the song well. I look forward to seeing more from Gillian in my travels.

Muse – “Madness” [Listen]
I tried so hard to let you go
But some kind of madness is swallowing me whole

I’m late to the party with Muse, but better late than never, thanks to a good friend for his recommendation. I’m just digging into the British band’s discography, beginning with their latest album, The 2nd Law. I didn’t prepare myself for the sounds I would encounter. There’s a grand, epic quality to their music, blending genres from electronic, hard rock, and even rock opera. My mind goes to Queen as I listen to some of their tracks. They’re certainly one of the more creative and interesting bands happening right now – I can’t wait to delve deeper into the world of Muse.

Death From Above 1979 – “You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine”
Now that it’s over
This weight is off my shoulder
Now that it’s over
I love you more and more

I just had to include a DFA1979 track after being lucky enough to get to see them live (finally!) when they kicked off their tour right here in Hamilton. To my delight, they opened their set with this track. I had been listening to their album, of the same title, to get myself pumped, and although every song is so solid and my favourites changed over the years, it hit me how much I love this one. These songs took on a whole new life for me and I’ve enjoyed rediscovering the band. This show is a major highlight for me and is one I’m so stoked I got to see. It really meant a lot.

The Box Tiger – “Set Fire To Your Friends” [Listen]
And this place is not a home
Let’s live in the unknown
We’ll work it out

I was pumped to finally catch Toronto’s The Box Tiger during the Hamilton Music Awards weekend when they were added to an already stacked bill at Casbah for an HMA showcase. Lead singer Sonia reached out to me to share their new single and I loved it from the first listen. Getting to see them play live, they were so solid and I really enjoyed their set. Sitting with my friend Luisa, we noted that Sonia’s powerful rock vocals reminded us a little of Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The band have been working hard, with already an impressive roster of shows under their belt, including opening for Hollerado, The Sheepdogs, and …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. Look out for a video for this track coming at the end of the month.

Diamond Rings – “Runaway Love” [Listen]
We could be the only ones to matter
We could be the only ones to know
We could also be a real disaster
But whatever, nevermind, let’s go

I included “I’m Just Me,” the lead single off Diamond Rings’ new album Free Dimensional, on my Playlist when it first dropped back in July. Now that the album is out, it’s so irresistible that I have to choose another for this mix. I was saying then how I was bummed to have missed his DJ set a few months back, but now I get a chance to see him on the 30th at This Ain’t Hollywood! (More info here!) The Toronto artist is currently touring to support the album and has also made appearances on Letterman and Leno. My outfit has already been chosen for his Hamilton appearance – needless to say, it involves sequins.

Diamond Rings. Photo from the official website.

Bruno Mars – “Locked Out Of Heaven” [Listen]
Open up your gates
Cause I can’t wait to see the light
And right there is where I wanna stay

This track is one of my jams right now. Bruno’s performance of it on SNL is the best I’ve seen on that show in ages. I can’t get over it; I’ve never seen a whole band get so involved and energetic – it was unreal! The song has got such a fun bounce; it’s impossible not to move when I listen to it. I’m happy to hear Bruno back on the airwaves.

Cadence Weapon – “Loft Party” [Listen]
Just say you’re rollin’ with Roland
I’m so grateful to have been introduced to so much music through my journey with I Heart Hamilton. Cadence Weapon is an incredible Canadian artist and puts on one of the best live shows I’ve seen. Stay tuned for my blog post on his show this month at This Ain’t Hollywood. In the meantime, I’m including this gritty banger on my Playlist, which you can find as the B-side to his 7″ which also includes “Conditioning,” the lead single to his latest album Hope in Dirt City.

Cowlick – “Money Money” [Listen]
Stay up late
I almost finish something

I still need to see Cowlick live – they’re definitely one of the more interesting local bands I have come across – and I’ll finally get my chance at their CD Release Party on Nov. 24th at This Ain’t Hollywood. (Read more about it!) It’s sure to be a wicked show, and making it even more special, the show also marks the release of the music video for this track, which is in 3D! Come to the show to get a copy of the album and a pair of 3D glasses included in the $10 cover. Shout out to the band for giving me the exclusive details in advance about the party!

Hachey the MouthPEACE – “Hot Headed” [Listen]
I’ve known Hachey for a few years now, and I’m thrilled to see him making waves with his new solo material and getting the recognition he deserves for his incredible talent. He earned several nominations at this year’s Hamilton Music Awards, including Best New Artist and Special Instrumentalist (which he won!). Hachey’s album dropped this summer and I caught him play in August at the colourful event A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was awesome to see him up on the classic Hamilton landmark of Gage Park’s bandshell providing a fun soundtrack to the afternoon. Check out that post for some footage of his performance.

– Kristin

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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