Christmas is just a couple of weeks away, and no doubt many Hamiltonians are flocking to local shops, big box stores and malls looking for gifts.
If you’re looking to give the gift of music, why not buy local? Here are ten Hamilton bands whose albums you can give to the music-lover on your list this holiday.
Monster Truck — Furiosity
As if taking home record of the year at the Hamilton Music Awards wasn’t enough, Monster Truck’s latest album Furiosity has also outsold any album bassist and vocalist Jon Harvey has been a part of.
The band’s combination of 70s rock with slick modern production values have struck a chord with fans internationally. After a successful European tour with Vista Chino (featuring members of stoner rock icons Kyuss) Monster Truck is back in Hamilton on Dec. 22 at the Hamilton Place Theatre.
You can find Furiosity on iTunes, in stores or online on the Monster Truck website.
Harrison Kennedy – Soulscape
It’s been a big year for Harrison Kennedy — he beat prostate cancer and took home five Hamilton Music Awards, including a lifetime achievement award and blues record of the year.
Soulscape unabashedly breathes blues. The record is a mix of classic acoustic tropes and more modern, up-tempo rock inspired tracks. When Kennedy plays, it’s not the sound of someone trying to play the blues, copping on an old Albert King riff. When Kennedy plays, the blues just happens.
You can pick up Soulscape on iTunes, in stores or online.
Dawn and Marra - Teaspoons and Tablespoons
Dawn and Marra’s latest album Teaspoons and Tablespoons is a great bet for any folk/indie music lover this holiday.
It was recorded in Vancouver with producer Howard Redekopp, whose credits include Tegan and Sara and Said the Whale. The Dundas duo is attempting to push out of a purely folk pigeonhole, adding more instruments to their ukulele and guitar-based standards.
Their dense, lilting harmonies are still the bedrock of the group’s sound, and they’re everywhere here. Dawn and Marra sound like they’ve been singing together for decades, and listeners are all the better for it.
Teaspoons and Tablespoons is on iTunes, in stores and online.
If you’re looking for something festive to play on Christmas morning right after it’s unwrapped, Diana Panton’s Christmas Kiss is a great bet. The album is full of jazzy takes on holiday standards and some Christmas-themed original tracks, too.
Panton took home both jazz album of the year and female vocalist of the year at the Hamilton Music Awards for the album. If someone you know is into smooth, classy jazz sung by a warm, soothing voice – find Christmas Kiss on iTunes, in stores and online.
Brad Cheeseman Group – Mixed Messages
And speaking of jazz, the Brad Cheeseman Group’s Mixed Messages EP is a great idea for the jazz purist on your list.
It’s only three songs, but each one is a deft mix of off-kilter time signatures, well-crafted keyboard and bass lines and some great saxophone work.
You can find Mixed Messages in stores or online.
LeE HARVeY OsMOND – The Folk Sinner
The Folk Sinner is Hamilton icon Tom Wilson’s latest effort from his LeE HARVeY OsMOND project. It’s like folk…but with a creepy, grungy layer underneath that keeps everything from being too clean.
Wilson’s distinctive voice is strong on every track, and the album slinks along back to front without ever getting boring. The Folk Sinner is a great idea for anyone on your list who likes alternative folk, grunge or rock.
You can buy The Folk Sinner in stores, on iTunes and online.
Poor Angus – Gathering
Have a friend or family member who loves Irish, east coast and traditional music? Then Poor Angus’ newest album Gathering is a great choice.
Poor Angus still holds true to its celtic roots on Gathering, while branching out into more modern, rock-inspired ideas. There are some strong traditional arrangements on there, as well as a faithful rendition of Barrett's Privateers by Canadian folk icon Stan Rogers.
A standout track is the lilting ballad Something I Can't See, which made it all the way to the finals of the CBC Music Searchlight competition before dropping to Sherman Downey and the Ambiguous Case from Newfoundland. Still, it's a perfect snapshot of a band really finding its footing with a new member — vocalist Joel Guenther.
You can buy Gathering in stores and online.
Lee Reed & John P – Written Large
For the rap/hip-hop lover on your list, look no farther than Lee Reed & John P’s Written Large EP.
This is the thinking man’s hip-hop, full of political introspection paired with well-produced beats and slick rhymes. The album won rap/hip-hop album of the year at this year’s Hamilton Music Awards.
You can find Written Large in stores and online.
Weekend Riot Club – Psychotropia
Weekend Riot Club is a safe bet for anyone you know who’s into rock music — especially a female-fronted band. Vocalist Melissa Marchese kind of sounds like a grittier Katy Perry fronting a rock band.
Psychotropia was recorded and produced by Nick Blagona, who knows a thing about rock and roll too — seeing as he’s worked as a producer and engineer for Deep Purple, The Police, the Tea Party and Nazareth.
You can pick up Psychotropia in stores, on iTunes and online.
Yiannis Kapoulas – Mystic Journey
Yiannis Kapoulas is a ridiculously talented multi instrumentalist who picked up two Hamilton music awards this year. Mystic Journey is a master class in Mediterranean-inspired string playing — and on an exotic, triple-necked guitar, no less.
You can buy Mystic Journey in stores, on iTunes and online.