Sounds Like: Folk music raised on New Jersey grit with a playful, progressive sonic palette — inspired by everything from Britpop to, yes, Bruce Springsteen
For Fans of: Conor Oberst's Upside Down Mountain; Josh Ritter; Americana artists who aren't embarrassed to admit — and sound like — they actually exist in 2016 not 1966
Why You Should Pay Attention: Jersey boy D'Amato once studied under Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, so it would be natural to anticipate a studied precision when it comes to his incarnation of modern roots music. But as serious as his subject matter gets — Donald Trump, distorted realities or both — there's levity in his tone and quirky constructions that keeps his work approachably smart, not over-intellectualized. Producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) brings to the table an ambitious take on instrumentals (here, two drum sets are better than one) and an introduction to some pedigreed friends, many of whom appear on Cold Snap, D'Amato's new LP. Oberst is one of them, who both sings on two tracks and holds a steady influence over a set of songs that find their footing in acoustic traditions but feel much fresher than flea-market finds.
He Says: "The songs that were my favorite, they all kind of dealt with perception," says D'Amato of Cold Snap's overarching theme, "and reality, and projections made onto other people, and different versions of ourselves we wanted people to see. A lot of the songs take place in the moments when the lines start to blur."
Hear for Yourself: The locomotive rush of "I Don't Know About You," which is loaded with infectious melodies and unique metaphors made even stronger by an appearance from Oberst on vocals. M.M.