The O'Pears. Photo by J Mitchel Reed

By Kristin Archer

The O’Pears – “Stay Warm” [Listen]
You left me far behind
Set to be released on December 7, Stay Warm is the second album from Toronto’s The O’Pears (Lydia Persaud, Jill Harris and Meg Contini) and it’s the only album you need this holiday season. I fell in love with the trio through their debut Like Those Nights (2016) and through their captivating live performances. Their harmonies are just glorious and I can’t recommend their upcoming Hamilton show enough – part of their album release tour – December 6 at Mills Hardware with Twin Within. Stay Warm isn’t your standard holiday album, although it does include a few traditional Christmas songs as well as a beautiful cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.” The record “illuminates the comfort, darkness, and complexity of the winter holiday season.”

The O'Pears. Photo by J Mitchel Reed
The O’Pears. Photo by J Mitchel Reed

Ellis – “The Drain” [Listen]
Don’t think I’ve ever felt so strange
Ellis is the musical project of Linnea Siggelkow. Having performed as a solo artist in the Toronto DIY scene, the project has evolved into a four-piece band, amping up the songs with a grittier take. Ellis’ 
debut EP The Fuzz is out this month and its tone and feel are the perfect addition to this November Playlist. The songs feel melancholy, nostalgic and dreamy. Celebrate the EP’s release in Hamilton this Wednesday, Nov. 28 at The Casbah with Dan Edmonds Band and Katie McBride, and in Toronto on Nov. 29 at The Baby G with Iris and Katie McBride.

Ellis. Photo by Ariel Bader-Shamai
Ellis. Photo by Ariel Bader-Shamai

Moscow Apartment – “Orange” [Listen]
You flipped the script
But I’m not off book yet
I guess that’s what I get
Toronto duo Moscow Apartment a.k.a. Brighid Fry and Pascale Padilla, are one of my favourite musical discoveries of year. That’s thanks to Glen Marshall of The Mule Spinner who I collaborated with on a series of 10 shows at the venue this fall. It was an honour to host the band for their very first Hamilton show. The teens are musicians on rise and they have already captured attention from the music industry, racking up awards including Young Songwriter of the Year at TIMA (Toronto Independent Music Awards), Young Performer of the Year (Canadian Folk Music Award), and the Slaight Music It’s Your Shot contest. It was a pleasure to book them and I can’t wait to see them again. This new single is fantastic!

Moscow Apartment
Moscow Apartment

LTtheMonk – “Bless The Rappers” (featuring ROYOS & Hoss Bowman) [Listen]
Another highlight of hosting the fall season of Live At The Mule Spinner was booking my first hip hop lineup, which is where I got to catch a live set from LTtheMonk. Originally from England, LT made a home for himself in no time here in Hamilton and has already made awesome connections, leading him to the band he plays with now. LT’s energy and flow combined with the live instrumentation makes for such a fun show. Watch footage from his set and listen to our interview on 93.3 CFMU.

Buddah Abusah – “Outlandish” [Listen]
I don’t think it’s fair if I don’t have you
Buddah Abusah is a new local artist on my radar who has been picking up steam, churning out some awesome tracks over the past year, playing a coveted spot at the 10th annual Supercrawl, and also playing at our Live At The Mule Spinner series. His energy is infectious; it’s impossible not to move when you seen his live show or to be totally engaged when chatting with him. Buddah is super ambitious and positive – I can’t wait to see what’s next for him. Listen to our chat on 93. CFMU.

Buddah Abusah
Buddah Abusah

The Geoff Hudson Band – “What Do Ya Say” [Listen]
And I thought I’d live my own life
But now I know I need you guys

The Geoff Hudson Band is another terrific local act on my radar this year, thanks to our recent Live At The Mule Spinner series where we were happy to book them this month. Featuring Geoff Hudson on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Jill McKenna on upright bass, and Ben Bowen on trumpet, the trio blends acoustic singer-songwriter elements with jazz, folk, and pop. On their debut album What Do Ya Say, out now on all platforms, there are tracks that keep you grooving as well as beautiful ballads that sweep you away, all of which make for an engaging live show that showcases their impressive musicianship.

Blue Mantra – “Green Couch” [Listen]
Oh baby girl
He’s got you good

Hamilton’s own Blue Mantra say they began as a college experiment between four acquaintances. Fusing rock’n’roll with their jazz skills, the band says they
made it their “prerogative to craft a plot that showcased the countless layers to [their] differing personas, all the while painting a cohesive story to reflect [their] uniformed sound.” This results in four very solid tracks that make up their debut self-titled EP, serving as an awesome introduction to the band. After touring Southern Ontario this year with some local shows sprinkled in, they have their sights on a sophomore EP, due out in the spring of 2019.

Jacquie Neville – “Lead The Way” [Listen]
I want today
I want it all
Former front-person of one of my favourite Canadian indie bands, The Balconies, Jacquie Neville makes her debut as a solo artist. This first single was recorded with her dear friend and former bandmate Liam Jaeger and is “an optimistic and energetic song about paving your own path and staying focused on what is most important to you.” Jacquie says: “I’ve gone through a lot of life changes in the past three years – all of which have been filled with many ups and downs. I choose to focus on the ways these different experiences have enriched my life and changed it for the better. ‘Lead the Way’ centralizes around the idea of not dwelling in the past, rather seeing it as another chapter in your story that has led you to where you are now and where you’re heading.” Cheers to that, girl! Watch for more from Jacquie to come in the new year.

Jacquie Neville "Lead The Way" art by Sam Seguin
Jacquie Neville “Lead The Way” art by Sam Seguin

Matthew Fleming – “Dream To Me” [Listen]
It’s the only way that I won’t think of you
I wonder if you think of me
I don’t know
Already a familiar face around the Hamilton music scene, this is the first solo release for Matthew Fleming. The song is so striking and is steeped in emotion; it’s just lovely. The track was engineered and mixed over at Boxcar Sound by Sean Pearson and features Brad Germain on the drums. The visuals are appropriately dreamy with a video created by Justis Krar. We are treated to two new songs from Matthew; the song “Running Out Of Time” is equally as beautiful. Catch Matthew live on December 15 at Boxcar Sound Recording Studio with CQ and Chris Bell.

Brutus Begins – “The Nothing Here” [Listen]
I’m the last one to know 
And the worst one to let it go
I’m continually impressed by the music I discover in this city. Brutus Begins is the psych-folk musical project by Ricardo Temporao. There are many layers that reveal themselves with multiple listens to his songs; the artist says he “resamples and processes elements of nature, acoustic instruments and synthesizers to create a sonic landscape that blurs the lines between the real and the reconstructed.” This single is accompanied by a trippy and theatrical video. I look forward to hearing more from Brutus Begins and catching his live show.

Brutus Begins
Brutus Begins

Emmett O’Reilly  – “Show Me Out” [Listen]
It might escape your field of vision for another day or two
But eventually you’ll see what’s missing
I met Emmett O’Reilly as a member of fun loving, rowdy Toronto rockers PKEW PKEW PKEW who have always been a blast to book for shows. So it’s no surprise I’m into some solo tunes from Emmett! Released this past summer, his debut EP packs a punch of “melodic musings over a punk rock beat” featuring Emmett at the lead with a full band to back him.

PKEW PKEW PKEW – “65 Nickels” [Listen]
Sixty-five nickels in my pocket
For every shitty thing you put me through
So it’s only fitting that PKEW PKEW PKEW drops a new tune right as I was finally getting around to featuring Emmett’s solo stuff! The band says: “Do you ever pay for transit using only nickels, the worst coin in the coin jar? Here’s a song about it.” This pop punk quartet gets me every time with their punchy, light-hearted tunes. I’d say we’re due for another party in Hamilon, eh guys?



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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