In the Mix. Editor Marc Skulnick picks his top tunes and awesome albums – Hamilton style! Skip to main content
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In the Mix

Strongman Blues Remedy

The Strongman Blues Remedy is the musical nom de plume for Hamilton’s very own blues super group headed up by Steve Strongman. The local blues artist decided that it was going to be music that would help to banish the weariness of the past couple of years and put a call out to a who’s who of blues musicians – local and otherwise – for a project aimed at celebrating life beyond the pandemic. The results are demonstrated in fine musical fashion on the aptly-titled The Strongman Blues Remedy Volume 1 and feature the likes of Harrison Kennedy, Steve Marriner, Crystal Shawanda and Dawn Tyler Watson, alongside local cats including Dave King and Jesse O’Brien. The 10 tracks on Volume 1 run the blues gamut: From the roots-infused rave-up of “I Like to Ride” (featuring Kennedy) to the down-tempo lament of “Fine Young Man” (featuring Watson) to the four-to-the-floor rock romp of “Tell Me I’m Wrong” (featuring Shawanda), no blues stone is left unturned and the result almost makes you forget about that pesky virus for a little while.

Allegories – Endless

They say that good things come to those who wait and in the case of Allegories, that is most definitely true. The Hamilton band – comprising Adam Bentley and Jordan Mitchell – took almost 14 years to release the follow-up to 2008’s stellar Surreal Auteur and based on the quality of the music on Endless (out on Hidden Pony Records), it was well worth waiting for. The first single “Always True” is a glorious, chilled-out slice of electro, while the other eight tracks on the sophomore release offer up all manner of electronica. From the hands-in-the-air disco house of “Pray” to the oh-so-ethereal vocals and slick beat of the equally joyous “Sentimental Hogwash” to the creeping dread – and beauty – of the piano-soaked “Ectopic,” Endless is a master-class in electronica that teems with creativity and confidence. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another 14 years for the next one.

Tom Wilson & iskwē – Mother Love

Neither Tom Wilson nor iskwē need any introduction – between the two of them, their musical pedigree is as impressive as it is diverse and includes all manner of awards, accolades, and achievements. If ever there was a musical match made in Hamilton heaven, this would be it. The eagerly anticipated Mother Love is the result of the pair’s collaboration and it’s an intimate and emotional collection of songs, eight in total, that crackles with the obvious musical chemistry between the Indigenous musicians; Wilson is Mohawk, while iskwē is Cree Metis. iskwē's plaintive, if not delicate, vocals are the perfect complement to Wilson’s gravelly, road-weary growl and you find yourself drawn into every word. The songs – which range from twangy country, indie folk and jazzy blues to bluesy roots and rockabilly – are delightfully melodic tales of love, longing, and loneliness that weave a majestic tapestry that is achingly personal and an absolute joy to listen to. The collection boasts some serious star power too, including Serena Ryder, who produced a number of tracks, along with musical appearances from Jesse O’Brien, Chuck Copenace and Anna Ruddick. Easily one of the best albums released this year, regardless of genre.

Jr. Bebble – “Shelf” single

Hamilton hip-hop artist Jr. Bebble returns with the release of his latest single, “Shelf.”
Photo: Submitted

Jr. Bebble (aka James Gordon Jr.) is something of a rap veteran, having dropped a number of records over the past few years, including his debut album, Eighty 9th, which was released to considerable hype back in 2019. The Jamaican-Canadian hip-hop artist has been quiet lately, but the good news is that’s about to change with the release of the eagerly anticipated EP entitled # (Sharp), which dropped in late August. The lead single off the six-song project is “Shelf,” dedicated to his late family member and one-time group member Marlando Powell, who tragically died of heart failure in 2020. It’s an absolute banger of a tune, highlighted by Bebble’s signature lyrical flow and set against a killer staccato trap beat. Be warned though, the chorus (“they’d rather see me on the shelf, but a ninja out here buzzin”) is catchy as hell and I guarantee it’ll be stuck in your head for days. Civic boosters will want to check out the accompanying video, shot by Toronto director @dieselshotthat, which features some cool footage of downtown Hamilton in all its gritty glory. Get on the Shelf at @jrbebble and watch for live dates in the coming months, including an appearance with Queen Cee at this year’s Supercrawl.