Sunday, February 14, 2016

Album Review: Mister Asylum by Highly Suspect

My long time friend, Rho, has pretty excellent taste in music.  Sometimes our tastes don't coincide, sometimes they do, but we always seem to glean something from each other's lists.  She checked out my Top Songs of 2015 playlist and I was thrilled when she made one of her own.  That's how I first heard of the band Highly Suspect.

Highly Suspect is a band from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and is comprised of twin brothers Rick and Ryan Meyer and Johnny Stevens.  "Mister Asylum" is their first full length album and is nominated for Best Rock Album by the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.  The song "Lydia" from the album is also nominated for Best Rock Song.

The song that was on Rho's playlist was "Fuck Me Up", a dirty, raucous tune about one night stand sex with a married woman.  I was instantly a fan of Highly Suspect's sound, which to me, sounds like the best outcome of a 3-way between Queens of the Stone Age, Kings of Leon, and the Black Keys.  You are so fucking welcome for that visual.  The band has an all around mature sound of a band that's been together and jammed for decades.  Johnny, the lead singer, has a gravelly, decadently dirty, sexy voice.  I imagined much older, slightly weathered dudes, hardened by years of touring.  I googled the band and was shocked to see this:

I haven't stopped listening to these guys ever since Rho turned me onto them. I have to admit, I'm fan girling.  A lot.  I haven't fallen this hard for a band as a whole in a really long time.  I love every single song on the album, which is a miracle because I rarely like more than three songs off any given album.  That's the high estimate.

Johnny on guitar, lead vocals, and synthesizer owns every single song and doesn't stop until the final note.  Ryan, on drums and vocals, is as talented as he is beautiful.  Rich, on bass and vocals, provides that hard deep soul crunch in every song that makes me turn up my stereo to top volume.  The lyrics to every song are magic and you know how much I love my words.

The album kicks off with a song that's quickly becoming my favorite and is also titled "Mister Asylum".  Johnny says it's about panic attacks, losing your shit, yet still right enough in the head that you know you need professional help.  I suffer from anxiety and am medicated for it so I can completely relate to the panic aspect of this song.  The overall desperation in this song sums up panic of  all different varieties with a dose of withdrawal (from love and possibly other things) thrown in to up the angst even further.  This song hints at what a fatal mix those combinations can be.

"Well, I'm out here drowning and surrounded by an ocean of emotion and this can't be real.  Cause this feeling I'm feeling got me reeling and I'm dying again so where did she go? Oh, she left me such a long time, such a long time ago, yeah.  And I'm losing my shit.  Baby, I'm broken.  I need her now, more than ever before 'cause I've started a battle that's turned into a war.  I won't swallow your pills, I'll spit 'em back out.  She's my resuscitation, my love in her mouth."

Panic attacks have never sounded hotter.  

Another favorite of mine is "Lydia", written about a relationship that didn't end up with a happily ever after for Johnny.  I think the song is about owning your mistakes, your share of shit thrown down when it's all over.  He acknowledges he's the bad guy in the whole thing, even comparing himself to an old style, mustache twirling villain who delights in tying damsels to railroad tracks (at least that's the way I picture it).  He takes on most of the responsibility for the great love turned shit show.  As hard as this song has to be for him to sing almost every single night, he got to keep Pam, the cat he gave to the famed and now gone Lydia, so there's that.  Check out this stunning live video of this kick ass heart breaker of a song.

My current anthem for insomnia lies in the song "Bath Salts".  I know it's probably about drugs but when you've slept very little for days on end, it kind of starts to feel like the same thing.

My final favorite from the album is "Bloodfeather", a song that sounds way sexier than it has a right to sound considering the repetitive offer of killing for love and all the mentions of guns and shooting and such that it contains.  That's probably why I love it, crazy bitch that I am.  Well, I love it for those reasons but also for the throbbing bass and killer (literally) lyrics.  It's a no bullshit, take no prisoners, "fuck the world" song about the love of your life, knowing full well the danger of falling for her and how crazy she makes you, all the while acknowledging that she'll probably ruin you and SPOILER ALERT:  You're totally going to let her.

"Shit's real, I need you to aim straight for my heart.  And if you're gonna miss then hit my head and leave a permanent scar.  You're fatal but I love who you are.  Be my death or my forever.  You're my little bloodfeather.  In the name of love, I'll follow you.  You fit me like a glove when I'm inside of you.  And if my body's dead and cold, I'd die for you.  In the name of love, I'll kill for, I'll kill for you."

Full lyrics here because they're just that damned good.

If I had known about this album when it was released last year, this would have been my #1 most listened to album for 2015.  I hate that I didn't get in on that last year but glad I'm here now.  It's one of those rare albums that is just fucking GOOD from start to finish.  It's the kind of album that makes you extremely impatient for another fix as soon as possible.

I hope to sate this need for more of them when I see them in concert on February 20th at the Rock Bottom Pub in Montgomery, Alabama.  It will be the band's first concert after the Grammy Awards and I sincerely hope these guys come away with one.

Stay tuned for my concert review and in the meantime, go download this album.  Don't mess with that track by track shit.  Buy the whole thing.  Trust me.  Also, cheer the band on tonight by watching the Grammy Awards on CBS at 7:00 p.m. Central Time.

'Till next time, y'all.



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