The Hamilton music holiday gift guide

Here's a look at just some of the local albums available for the music lover on your list this holiday season.
The Arkells' latest album Michigan Left is just one of a host of local records available for the music lover on your list this Christmas. (Patrick Doyle/Ottawa Bluesfest/Canadian Press)

There are plenty of records made by local artists available for people looking to give the gift of music this Christmas.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are a few acts to check out for the music lover on your list.


Hamilton's favourite indie-rock sons The Arkells were busy this year. They crisscrossed North America more than once and joined Billy Talent for a European tour.

The band released their latest record Michigan Left just before 2011 drew to a close. It netted them a rock album of the year nod at the 2012 Hamilton Music Awards and was nominated for rock album of the year at the 2012 Juno Awards.

For more, head over to Arkells.ca.

Canadian Winter

After a well-received debut record in 2011, Hamilton hip-hop stalwarts Canadian Winter returned with a new EP in 2012 called Original Six.

Vocalist Kobi Annobil described the record's debut single "Get the Show on the Road" as a love letter to the city's music scene.

"It's our band's ode to local musicians in Hamilton," he said.

Check out the video for "Get the Show on the Road," which was shot downtown earlier this year.

The Rest

This Christmas, give the gift of the album that almost never was.

The Rest spent months trying to save Seesaw, which at one point was completely deleted by a hard drive glitch. It was eventually restored — but then the first run of CDs the band ordered only played static.

"I think I calmed down maybe four days later," laughed lead singer Adam Bentley.

He says this record is the most indicative of the indie-rock band's live show. Listen to it on Bandcamp right here.

Young Rival

If you spend any time on Reddit, chances are you've seen the video for Young Rival's "Two Reasons" from their newest record, Stay Young.

Thanks to social media, a creepy video and a catchy tune, the song exploded online earlier this year. To date, it has over 714,000 views on YouTube.

"We wanted a video people would be interested in watching more than once and sharing," said lead singer Aron D'Alesio.

"We just wanted to make this thing unstoppable."

Mission accomplished. Check out the video here.

All About Maggie

If pop music is your thing, check out Dundas' All About Maggie.

Fronted by Maggie Szabo, the band plays pop music unapologetically. Szabo says she's always trying to tell a story through her music, and stay close to her roots.

"My music a bit more organic than the hardcore tech stuff that's on the radio now," she said. Hear it for yourself on Allaboutmaggie.com.

The Dirty Nil

The Dirty Nil play a kind of punk rock that is catchy but still raw in all the right places. They've released two seven-inch records to date — full of howling vocals, thrashing drums and feedback-laden guitars.

Check out their newest single "Little Metal Baby Fist" here.

Dawn and Marra

Folk duo Dawn and Marra are Hamilton's answer to Simon and Garfunkel. Their songs are lilting and catchy, cobbled together by sparse instrumentation — usually a guitar, piano, or ukulele.

But that's for the best, because their voices need plenty of room. The two sing together effortlessly, with intricate, dense vocal harmonies bursting out of their tunes.

Have a look for their debut album Never Ask Me Why this holiday season, and check out their songs on Dawnandmarra.com.

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings

Hamilton roots and country royalty Blackie and the Rodeo Kings released their latest record Kings and Queens in 2011.

Guitarist and singer Tom Wilson is largely considered to be one of Hamilton's most prolific songwriters, from Blackie and the Rodeo Kings to Junkhouse and his current solo project, Lee Harvey Osmond.

Check out "I've Got you Covered," featuring Rosanne Cash here.

Terra Lightfoot

Waterdown's Terra Lightfoot cleaned up at the Hamilton Music Awards this year, winning female artist, female vocalist and alternative/country recording of the year.

Her debut self-titled record was released in 2011. It features rootsy acoustic offerings alongside more robust songs played on her worn mahogany Gibson SG, like the standout "Sleep Away the Winter."

For more, head to Terralightfoot.com.

Missy Bauman

Seventeen year old Missy Bauman is riding high this year, after winning best new artist at the Hamilton Music Awards and opening Daniel Lanois' star-studded Greenbelt Harvest Picnic in September.

Check her out in Studio A for the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic here.