For fans of Alexi Murdoch and Josh Ritter, it’s only necessary to go as far as the music of Chris Bathgate to find your next big fix. Recently named one of 2011′s “Best of What’s Next” artists by Paste Magazine, this Michigander’s surprisingly evocative sonic portraits of what was one of the darkest periods of his life will dig their way into your soul and refuse to let go. This is folk-pop of the highest order. Bathgate poured every dollar he had into the recording of his latest effort Choking Down A Salt Year, but recording the album took a toll emotionally as well. Consider it a concept twin with Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, which proved cathartic for Justin Vernon. Regardless of how it came to exist, one thing is crystal clear: Choking Down A Salt Year is an album you have to hear — it will quickly prove to be one of the most memorable folk-pop albums of 2011.