Oakland’s Halcyonaire recently released “Young Penitents” and “The Healer”, their first release after being reunited about a year. Three members of Halcyonaire got their start making hardcore music in suburban San Diego before singer Chris Damien began to realize the hardcore scene wasn’t the best avenue to tell the stories he wanted to tell. “I inherited a bunch of country records from an extended great grandmother of mine…from Oklahoma”, Damien explains. “I found Hank Williams in the stack and a bunch of other powerful singers, beautiful storytellers. I started picking and singing like they did and my friends joined me.”
Despite classic country influences, Halcyonaire isn’t really a country band. Their instrumentation reminds me of western landscapes in a way that is distinctly Californian without emulating any artists in particular. And while singer Chris Damien has a voice that sounds familiar, it’s definitely unique. Halcyonaire will perform at the Hemlock on January 23. “Young Penitents” and “The Healer” are below.