The Artisanals: The Artisanals
Distilling their Midwestern and Southern roots with an uncanny flair for ‘80s FM radio, The Artisanals are a quirky new arrival to the burgeoning brotherhood of Heartland rock bands. On one level, they’ve cast themselves in the reliable mold of such heavyweights as Drive-By Truckers, The Gaslight Anthem and The Bottle Rockets, but they eschew much of the dirt and grit in favor of a sound, lushly produced and oddly mystical, that begins with frontman and founder Johnny Delaware. He can tap the emotive power of a young Bono (“Primitive Style” smolders like an outtake from U2’s The Unforgettable Fire ) as easily as Jason Isbell’s signature rasp (“I remember listening to ‘Mandolin Wind’ underneath the stars,” he belts on “Drag,”) and he writes with an ear for unusual instrumentation (a sitar on “Angel 42,” a cosmic orchestral wash on “Country Roads Town”) that harks back to a time when albums were multi-tracked almost to excess, just because it was possible. Ryan “Wolfgang” Zimmerman (Band of Horses, Brave Baby) certainly has a hand in that; a longtime fixture on the scene in Charleston, S.C., he decamped with the band to the mojo-blessed Magic Barn in Iowa to record on the same mixing board that once graced New York’s famed Magic Shop studio. Delaware likens the creative process to a form of surrender to an “invisible ghost,” and you can feel it, haunting and heavy, on this ambitious and meticulously crafted 10-song set.