The Crowleys – “Making Friendly” [Listen]
I don’t know how to tell you that I want to be friends with you
In this new day and age
The Crowleys coming through with another gem! If you’ve frequented their live shows like I have over the years, this instrumental will be familiar to you. The band says this song is about making friends. “A process that can be full of uncertainty, vulnerability and excitement. Making honest connections can be maze-like. How do you know if someone will accept you? Which version of yourself should you put forward? How do you know which cues to follow and which to let go?” It’s an awesome fit to see the band now working with Hamilton-based indie label Wel Pel Records.

The Crowleys. Photo by Jamie MacLean.

Naked House – “Soft Bokeh” Waves Goodbye [Listen]
Well, here I am, wide awake in the middle of the night
With whirling winds of dismay circulating through my mind
Damon Guyett, aka Naked House, is a Hamilton-based multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter. You may also know him as the former keyboardist/vocalist of the psych-rock band Dizzy Spells and touring member of Twin Within. Damon now shares a new album, Waves Goodbye, which he wrote, recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered. The musician plays a wide array of instruments on the album, including piano, synthesizers, banjo, synth bass, trumpet, ukulele, glockenspiel, electric and acoustic guitar, a ton of percussive instruments, and more! It’s his best work yet.

Naked House

iskwē and Tom Wilson – “Blue Moon Drive” feat. Chuck Copenace [Listen]
Yeah yeah dead or alive
Every night we take that
Blue moon drive

It’s a dreamy collaboration to see iskwē and Tom Wilson team up together. According to the artists, the collaboration began as a gig at the 2020 Indspire Awards in Ottawa. Tom Wilson shares: “We had never sung together so until we actually stepped up to the microphone and started to sing we didn’t know that we had a little bit of magic going on between us. We are able to now share that magic with you.” (Source: Amplify Music Mag). The song was originally released by Tom as Lee Harvey Osmond in 2015 on the album Beautiful Scars, and now takes on a new life through this collaboration. The release is in partnership with Red Moon Rising, an Indigenous owned-and-operated music company, founded to amplify Indigenous artists and to expand artistic opportunities for Indigenous artists.

iskwē and Tom Wilson

Daniel Lanois – “(Under The) Heavy Sun” [Listen]
We’re gonna roll on down the road
So far we go
Acclaimed songwriter and producer Daniel Lanois announces a new album called Heavy Sun, due out in April 2021. Originally from Hamilton, the 11-time Grammy winner still has strong ties to the city. I love that his current press photo was shot by Floria Sigismondi, another highly acclaimed artist who once lived in Hamilton. With this lead single from his next release, it’s a soothing, spiritual sound. Lanois says: “We want to lift people’s spirits with this music. It’s so easy to feel isolated right now, but we want everyone to feel included in what we’re doing.” The upcoming album Heavy Sun “fuses classic gospel and modern electronics, mixing gritty, human textures with crisp, digital accents and lush, swirling atmospherics to create a sound that’s at once warmly familiar and boldly unexpected.”

Daniel Lanois. Photo by Floria Sigismondi.

Matt Berninger – “One More Second” [Listen]
Baby, don’t lie to me
You know that I believe you
Always in love with someone
If it ain’t me, come on

Just give me a little more time
Give me a little bit of warning
Baby, I’m gonna be fine
When I figure out where I’m going

The National’s frontman Matt Berninger just released his highly anticipated solo debut, Serpentine Prison. The beautiful album was produced by famed Memphis multi-instrumentalist, Booker T. Jones. I knew from the first few words of this lead single that it would strike all of the deep feelings that I get from The National’s music. Matt says of this song, “I wrote ‘One More Second’ with Matt Sheehy (Lost Lander, EL VY) with the intention for it to be a kind of answer to Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You,’ or sort of the other side of that conversation. I just wanted to write one of those classic, simple, desperate love songs that sound great in your car.”

Matt Berninger

Heather Valley – “The Last Song” [Listen]
And all there is is one last song
Now the band is giving it their all

Hamilton-based musician Heather Valley spent the early part of the pandemic quarantined alone at a farm and found comfort recording covers of her favourite songs. The result is a warm, dusty collection called Wildflower Radio, due out in 2021. Heather shares another single from this release, a cover of a song by Memphis band Lucero. The artist shares: “This song has a wistful beauty that captures the feeling of longing for home. I felt that intensely this year as I spent months away from the community I have built in Hamilton. It reminds us to appreciate what we have before it becomes a memory.” Sharing in that Hamilton love, the song features local musicians Matty Simpson on electric guitar, Justine Fischer on upright bass, and Nim Agalawatte of Four String Studio on the mix and master.

Heather Valley

Jordan Paul – “Archetype X” [Listen]
While you were on your own

What did you learn
I wanna know your truth
Jordan Paul is a new alt-folk rock musician on my radar from Hamilton. He shares a beautiful new song that is just perfect for a November mix. The song was written in a self-processed act of therapy, and you can feel the catharsis for the artist as the song builds. Jordan says: Things seem to naturally boil over as energy builds, tension can reach a terrifying peak before it dissipates. Release is painful, but it’s cathartic—and I hope we are heading in a direction of healing after all this haunt. Only through deep introspection can we heal the ugliness inside ourselves and begin to make the world a better place. I believe if we do the difficult work within, we will see a change without.”

Jordan Paul

Tennyson King – “Garden Of Truth” [Listen]
Face down trying to breathe into my pillow
For you I fight this pending doom
Toronto-based singer-songwriter Tennyson King shares a new song, a post-apocalyptic folk single, to be exact! It’s the second song Tennyson self produced and recorded at his home studio since being grounded from cancelled tours since March. The artist says the song “joyfully plays with the idea of living through love and how in our current world, we need a break down to the fabric of society for us to rebuild as one community.” The track was mixed in Hamilton with Michael Keire at Threshold Studio. Watch the music video for the song.

Tennyson King

Chastity – “Drain The Bloodbath” feat. Makeda Francisco [Listen]
I’ve had enough
Of feeling trash

The music of Chastity is described as: “Brandon Williams creates music in a space of urgency, melody and chaos – an artifact of youth culture that bridges isolation and collectivity.” Originally from Whitby, the musician has consistently delivered stellar releases – from Death Lust (2018) to Home Made Satan (2019). This new single is a snapshot of the times; it’s about feeling hopeful despite all of the uncertainty. Brandon says: “Been trying to think of all the good people in the U.S. right now instead of the trippy ones. My pal has been telling me that this is the end of a bad era, not the beginning of one. I love that. Hoping for some positive change, hoping that the world is able to drain this bloodbath.”

Chastity. Photo by Ryan Skinner.

Smoothie Lou – “I Did It” feat. Boy Pape [Listen]
I put my all in my music
I put my heart on the shelf
Hamilton emcee Smoothie Lou has delivered a steady pace of singles and releases over the past couple of years. The intro to his latest release, Yeezy Came To Me In A Dream, starts with a moment of meditation. It made me take a pause and a breath, myself, when putting it on. It sets the tone before launching into Smoothie’s confident rhymes, like this self-assured single, “I Did It,” featuring Boy Pape. The release also includes a feature from fellow Hamilton rapper LTtheMonk.

Smoothie Lou. Photo by Brody @becausedesignmatters.

Andrea Mendez – “Issues” [Listen]
You picked me up and you threw me away
Guess I’m the girl who couldn’t make you stay

Andrea Mendez is an R&B/soul/pop singer-songwriter based here in Hamilton. Earning a degree in jazz voice performance from the University of Toronto, Andrea performed around the city with her own jazz quartet. In 2018, she released her debut EP Soul Ties, a strong collection of lovely melodies, catchy beats, and beautiful vocals. “Issues” marks an exciting new chapter for the artist. I caught Andrea’s first official Hamilton show earlier this year, and I cannot wait until we can get back to that to catch her again.

Andrea Mendez

Ten Minute Detour – “Leave This Place” [Listen]
Gotta leave this place behind
Gonna leave it alone
Soulful indie rockers Ten Minute Detour recently relocated to Hamilton from Calgary. The band describes their formation as being “brought together by the winds of change (and a few classified ads)”. Before the big move, they recorded their sophomore album Common Pleasure in Nashville, teaming up with producer and former Cage the Elephant guitarist, Lincoln Parish. The band is now poised for their next phase, being part of the Hamilton scene, and releasing new singles this year. It will be fun to catch them on a local stage, as soon as we’re able to again!

Ten Minute Detour

Ellis In Transit – “Breaking Chains” [Listen]
Come with me
I’ll get you closer
I’ll take you closer
Ellis in Transit is a British-Canadian alt-rock band based in Hamilton. Originally formed as an acoustic duo (Alexandria Shankland 
Jim Robertson) in Scotland, the two performed for a year before heading to Canada. Now they have expanded to become a full band and share “Breaking Chains,” the final song from their debut EP. Alexandria’s voice is a force – her distinct and powerful vocals make the band instantly recognizable and they’re only just getting started. I look forward to getting back to live shows to catch their live set.

Ellis In Transit

Brian Cuddy – “Already Gone” [Listen]
You took it all from me
When I, when I took it all from you
Hamilton-based label Wel Pel Records is on a roll with another goodie. This time, a new single from Toronto-based musician Brian Cuddy. The track was recorded here in Hamilton at Threshold Studio and features local musicians Ethan Paxton and Father Christmas. It’s the latest installment of an ongoing collaborative EP project that Brian has been working on from 2018 to 2020. It’s an emotional song for the musician, as it “reflects on the balance of existence after witnessing the impact of a senseless death on a close circle of friends.” You can hear Brian’s seasoned musicianship on the track. His career has taken him from surf western band, INVASIONS, to forming the band King Cuddy, to now releasing great solo material.

Brian Cuddy

Bryce Clifford – “Tomorrow We Break Up With Ourselves” [Listen]
The hopeless romantic
It’s an East Hamilton collaboration as local musician Bryce Clifford teams up with Clifford Brewing to release a new vinyl, Brewha: East Hamilton EP. The album art matches Clifford’s tasty East Hamilton Lager – so you’ve gotta sip on one as you listen! Check out the music video for this track, which Bryce described as “an enjoyable effort” to put together, as hours upon hours VHS footage of home videos were compiled and digitized.

Bryce Clifford. Photo by Danielle Donville.
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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