April 15, 2014
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Nashville (sm)art/pop songstress Tristen gave us one of the year's best albums of last year with her critically acclaimed CAVES and the breezy, sharp-hooked "Gold Star" is our favorite track of the bunch. Catch the dizzying, kaleidoscopic "Gold Star" video, watch the "Catalyst" video and then trek back to last fall's DC post on CAVES here.

Despite rhyming "misanthrope" and "antidote" (in the first line, even), utilizing the line "I tooketh and I gaveth away" and crooning and swooning like Frank and Nancy Sinatra, the new "Sweet Malaise" from Ed Harcourt and Ren Harvieu, has no small amount of lush, kitschy appeal. It's the B-side of Harcourt's new single "In My Time of Dust" from his recent EP Time of Dust (more DC here).

Ed Harcourt (w/ Ren Harvieu) - "Sweet Malaise"

With her impossibly fragile, quavering voice and a batch of mesmerizing songs, New Zealand singer/songwriter Aldous Harding has delivered a self-titled debut album that is so far into and so far beyond what might be described as traditional folk music that it both transcends and transforms the genre. On the surface, Harding (actual name Hannah) creates mystical and mysterious songs that sound like they've been dusted off from the 60's era folk vinyl crate at some U.K. flea market. But spend the time and dive a bit deeper and the tracks, like the devastatingly mournful and intimate "No Peace," become extended, haunting journeys into heartwrenchingly personal territory. Aldous Harding is an album that demands your full attention. Our suggestion: wait until after midnight, remove all distractions, plug in some good headphones and track all nine songs from start to finish in one sitting. Then exhale. Repeat. Stream the album here. Click through to watch the video for "Hunter" and listen to "No Peace."

Aldous Harding - "Small Bones of Courage" (from Aldous Harding)

Former Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson is a man who wears as many hats as he has options. A decade's worth of platinum songwriting with artists as diverse as Taylor Swift, The Dixie Chicks, Pink, Josh Groban, NAS and Ben Folds has made him a platinum-selling go-to songwriter specializing in tailoring his melodic gifts with an artist's own particular style and lyrics. The Twin Cities tunesmith has put almost a million dollars in the bank thanks to co-writing just one song: "Someone Like You," the massive international hit off Adele's 21. But now, Wilson says he "wanted to hear what the music in my own head sounded like." This week we get the chance to hear as well with the long-awaited release of Love Without Fear, Wilson's first studio album since 2007. After a DIY version of the album was scrapped -- "there was something missing: other people") -- Wilson enlisted some A-list support including guitarists Blake Mills and Nickel Creek's Sean Watkins and vocal backup from the likes of Sara Bareilles, Sara Watkins and Natalie Maines. Click through to stream "Even the Stars Are Sleeping," the albums only co-write (with Rachael Yamagata) featuring Missy Higgins on harmonies.

Dan Wilson - "Two" (from Love Without Fear)

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