Author: Aaron Grych
With their sophomore record, Charleston band SUSTO hits an absolute home run that is sure to cement their place in the world of indie rock. The album is filled with a bevy of influences, ranging from Americana to country to psychedelia (if you couldn’t tell from the album cover) and everywhere in between. Beautifully produced and engineered, SUSTO is able to make an incredibly unique mix of genres and subject matter meld together perfectly. In short, the album is a sonic marvel. However, the instrumentation is not the only jewel in this album’s crown, as each song is able to tells it own story with its own profound message.
The album opens on a mellow note with “Far Out Feeling,” which immediately exhibits the clear influence of psychedelia on SUSTO’s music. The track feels like a dreamscape, using an ethereal string section and blending piano and guitar supporting rhythms that mimic the soud of a harpp. The next track “Hard Drugs,” opens with the line “I had a dream we were doin’ hard drugs in a street alley, you were lyin’ dead next to me” harshly juxtaposing the light and positive feel of the previous song. Although the song discusses a history of substance abuse and poor relationships, lead singer Justin Osbourne focuses on the positives of the situations he finds himself in, a theme that carries through the entire album. Osbourne is not shy at all when bringing up personal matters, referencing his own struggles being somewhat of a black sheep in South Carolina. The song “Cosmic Cowboy” brings up his own views of god and the afterlife as a tattooed atheist in a heavily religious society while “Gay in the South” deals with the issue of being, well, gay in the south, through a series of verses directed at his family members. The idea of god is explored heavily in the album, and represents the songwriters personal view of Jesus not as savior, but as a thorn in his side. In “Diamond’s Icaro,” organs and an almost howled chorus weave around what would otherwise sound like a classic southern Americana song to give it a spacey, divine feel. “Mystery Man,” is one of the happier tracks on the project, employing country-style slide guitar and an upbeat backing beat to create a the perfect back road driving song. The closing track, “Jah Werx” is, in my opinion, the gem of the album. As a majority of the album touches on difficult, sensitive topics, “Jah Werx” is simply a catchy, feel-good song that you can’t help but to sway and sing along with. The chorus of the closer echoes both the name and the sentiment of the album: life is tough, no one is sure what happens next, but “I’m fine today.”
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: “Jah Werx”, “Mystery Man”, “Diamond’s Icaro”, “Far Out Feeling”, “Gay in the South”