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Harding, Harper, Watson, and More

Singer/Songwriters Start Month on Strong Note

Fans of Feist, Kate Bush, and Joanna Newsom will find much to love Aldous Harding’s sound. Her new album, Designer, is bold and artful. | Credit: Courtesy

Poignant and poetic, the music of Kiwi Aldous Harding is worth devoting your Friday night to when she plays SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on October 11 with Hand Habits. Her songs are quietly rhythmic and sparse with reveries of piano and plucked acoustics; her words are deep and opaque. Fans of Feist, Kate Bush, and Joanna Newsom would find much to love in her work. The tracks on her critically lauded new album, Designer, are bold and artful, but not loudly so, with subtler and stranger depth than meets the ear. 

There must be something in the water in the enchanted land of New Zealand, which of late has blessed the world of indie rock with music of newfound invention and relevance. But Harding seems cut from a cloth all her own, an enigmatically sensitive soul no matter where she’d roam or settle. Catch a chance to hear her while you can.

Hand Habits, too, are worth getting there right on time for. Their music is transfixing and somewhat dreamy, like hearing through faded film. Also a studio musician for acts such as The War on Drugs and Weyes Blood, Hand Habits push all the right buttons for indie-rock enthusiasts with their hazy guitar harmonies. It’s sure to be a night of musical excellence.

HARPER BEFORE HARDING:  Extend your Friday night by arriving a little early to hear the thoughtful and soulful sounds of Peter Harper, who plays that same day, same venue, beginning at 6 p.m. Last time we checked in with Harper, he had released his album, Break the Cycle. Now, he’s back with a new EP, Twilight, which livens things up with New Orleans–style jazz-band flourishes. There’s an impassioned, even rebellious quality to Harper’s music, a call to rise to more peaceable ways. Arrive with ears open and leave inspired. 

IT’S CHROMEO TIME:  In a dancing mood? Famous and funky dance music duo Chromeo will heat up the dance floor at Eos (500 Anacapa St.) also on Friday, October 11, starting at 9 p.m. Folks may recall the pair from hits such as “Bonafied Lovin’” and “Don’t Sleep,” and irrepressible energy like theirs is hard to forget. No doubt they’ll deliver quite the set, and who knows, maybe you’ll find some “bonafied” love on the dance floor. 

THE FOLK SINGER RETURNS:  Willie Watson is renowned for his ability to sing, reinterpret, and revive folk music. Santa Barbara is fortunate to welcome the Old Crow Medicine Show founder at a special solo show at the Alhecama Theatre (215 A, E. Canon Perdido St.) on Saturday, October 12, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Hosted by the Santa Barbara Acoustic Music Association, the concert arrives as part of the Wooden Hall Concerts series. Few can match Watson’s wavering vibrato or powerful delivery, as proven on his recently released Folksinger Vol. 2. A must for folk music fans.

TURNING JAPANESE HOUSE: The Japanese House, from the U.K., has shown herself to be an especially unique creator in the chilled-out world of dreampop. The emotively vocoder’d, androgynously fashioned singer/songwriter otherwise known as Amber Bain first rose to fame as a friend and collaborator of The 1975 but has now earned a name in her own right with her beautifully iridescent, synth-soaked tunes. Bain suffuses her songs with heartache, and even at their catchiest can break a tear or few out of many listeners. See her play at SOhO on Tuesday, October 15, at 9 p.m.

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