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Judy Marsales
Arts + Culture

In the Mix

Onglish“Thyme”

I’ve had the latest single from Onglish (aka Brett Klassen) on repeat for days now and for good reason: “Thyme” is an absolute banger. Not a banger in the hands-in-the-air sense, but more because it’s so damn catchy and innovative. To the uninitiated, Onglish is a local producer who’s been putting out all manner of bangers for a number of years now, from hip-hop and house to pop, ambient and whatever else he pulls out of his musical bag of tricks. “Thyme” is merely his latest creation and sees the Hamilton resident move from behind the mixing console to take over the vocal reins. As the title suggests, “Thyme” is a musical ode to special herbs – a recipe for romance, if you will. Over a kitschy cool electro beat, complete with woozy snyth lines and auto-tuned vocal effects, Onglish sings about cooking for his partner, encouraging her to rest, unwind and relax as he prepares a meal. Who needs Barry White when you have Onglish’s rosemary and “Thyme”? Onglish.ca

Scott Orr Oh Man (Acoustic)

Scott Orr is something of a renaissance man when it comes to his musical career and output. Not only does he own and operate the Hamilton-based Other Songs record label (home to the indie-folk likes of Gareth Inkster, Fanny Price, and Timid, The Brave among others) but he also puts out music of his own under various guises including Best Wishes and Low Chord. However, it is his solo work that I find most compelling, and his latest release is no exception. Oh Man (Acoustic) is, as the title would suggest, acoustic versions of his stellar 2021 Oh Man album and features 10 songs, recorded live off the studio floor, stripped down to the bare musical bones: achingly beautiful strings, sparse guitars and haunting piano – with Orr’s ethereal vocals the highlight, as they always are on his records. Top track: “Softly” – an absolute stunner of a song that features Gareth Inkster on piano, Kelly Bennett on violin and additional vocals from Allison Geleynse. Coupled with Orr’s delicate vocals, the results are hauntingly melancholic and beyond beautiful. Perfect for the chilly nights to come, especially if you’re curled up in front of a roaring fire, under a blanket with a glass of wine. Scott-orr.com

Golden Feather Now & Then EP

Hamilton vinyl junkies will likely recognize Golden Feather’s lead vocalist Brad Germain as the owner of local record shop Into The Abyss. Of course, Germain’s impressive musical pedigree stretches far beyond being a purveyor of pop music; he’s been a member of a number of well-known Hamilton bands over the years, including The Dinner Belles and The Marble Index. With Golden Feather, Germain is joined by Steve Kiely, Ronson Armstrong, Chris Wheeler and Gareth Inkster. The popular five-piece has just dropped Now & Then, a self-produced EP that boasts two tracks – “Mountain Men” and “You’ve Been On My Mind” – that are soaked in a delightful ’70s vibe that recalls the likes of the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead. Both songs were recorded live off the floor, clock in at almost seven minutes each and feature meandering, soulful vocals, bluesy guitar riffs and melodic piano. Out on Sonic Unyon, the EP is available on “golden nugget yellow” vinyl, which is a must for any self-respecting record collector. And hey, you can buy it from Into The Abyss, so it’s a win-win all ’round. Watch for live dates in and around the Hamilton area – these guys are killer live. goldenfeather.bandcamp.com

Melissa Marchese Mad Love LP

I’ve been a fan of Melissa Marchese for years and it blows my mind that Mad Love is her debut solo album. Still, if you’re going to make local music fans wait this long, you might as well make the wait worth it, and with Mad Love, the immensely talented Marchese has delivered the goods, and then some. The seven songs on the record run the gamut from the country torch & twang of “Cigarette Song” and the anthemic bluesy-rock of “Sunshine” to the horn-soaked Motown-inspired romp of “Sirens” and the straight-ahead rock of “Little Wish,” with nary a musical misstep along the way. Lead single, “Other Woman” is a gorgeously down-tempo, piano-heavy lament to lost love, highlighted by Marchese’s trademark soaring vocals. Guests on the album, which was recorded at Oshweken’s legendary Jukasa Studios, include Tomi Swick (who sings with Marchese on the LP’s final track, the upbeat “We Can Be Together”), Laura Cole, CJ Hinds, Maïa Davies and Jesse O’Brien. If there’s any justice in the musical universe, Mad Love will be the massive hit it deserves to be – so do your part and buy it at your local record store or download it from Spotify or Apple Music. melissamarchese.com

Arts for All

Judy Marsales