Sounds Like: A swamp bar jukebox loaded with British glitter and Seventies Southern rock; a crawfish boil aboard ELO's spacecraft
For Fans of: Dr. Dog, Ryan Adams, The Last Waltz
Why You Should Pay Attention: After falling hard for Bob Dylan and David Bowie as a child in Louisiana, Kyle Craft channeled his heroes on his Sub Pop debut, Dolls of Highland. A couple years ago, he holed up in a friend's Shreveport, Louisiana laundry room and turned true-to-life tales of a "Gloom Girl," the "Lady of the Ark" and "Black Mary" into a poetic gumbo of Southern roots, electric folk and preening glam rock. "That's one of the more beautiful things about songs is that they're more like pictures," he says. "[Dylan's] 'Visions of Johanna' is a picture. It's not some sort of thing that's telling you to feel a certain way, it's just there." Dolls' echoing honky tonk saloon piano, harmonica, vintage organ and his unrestrained howl — like Carly Simon chasing Freddie Mercury-level vocal runs — provide an immediacy that he'll showcase in May while touring with the Fruit Bats. Mixed by Brandon Summers and Benjamin Weikel of the Helio Sequence, this album stokes the warmth, looseness and unpredictability of a live show just inches from coming unhinged.
He Says: "I couldn't sleep [the night after I found out Bowie died]. Every time I'd go to sleep I'd have these nightmares. It was rough. Bowie was the first album I ever had. He's always been a giant influence on me. At the same time, he went out perfectly. His passing was graceful. It was classy, beautiful, and he made it feel like it was right. It felt like he was like, 'All right, see you guys later.'"
"[Summers and Weikel] are geniuses when it comes to mixing. When you hear this album now, it has this polish to it. Not overproduced, or extremely polished, but it does sound galaxies different from where it started. When it started, it certainly sounded like it was recorded in a laundry room. They get down to what grade of cable it is. I've never been like that before. I'm like, 'Lemme throw this shitty mic into this shitty pre-amp and through this shitty cable.' Phil Spector once said: 'Mic anywhere in a room with a good performance and it's gonna turn out good.'"
Hear for Yourself: Just enough of Ziggy's stardust gives "Pentecost" its musical sheen, but it's Craft's vocal intensity that outlasts all else. Reed Fischer