April 16, 2014
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Melbourne-based singer/songwriter Hayden Calnin uses his studio production background to great effect on his just-released second EP of atmospheric folktronica Oh, Hunter. Generous reverb amps up the spaciousness of Calnin's slow-moving bedroom hymns while his vocals, occasionally taking flight with an haunting falsetto, add a special dimension of somber solitude. Think a stripped down Sigur Ros with a touch of mellow Bon Iver. Like the soundtrack to a nocturnal dreamscape, songs like "Not Good For Me" drift and sway in a warm narcotic haze. Click through to stream "Coward" and watch the "Comatose" video and a pair of live performances.

Hayden Calnin - "Not Good For Me" (from Oh, Hunter)

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)

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