“Acid Boys” – Susto

Walking the fine and often unwarranted line separating Americana from country rock, “Acid Boys,” with its sure backbeat and rugged tunefulness, reveals the perennial power of solid songwriting and straightforward instrumentation. History will have the last word, of course, but I can’t believe that computer technology is so consequential that it eliminates the human appetite for accessible melody and music played in physical space. Sure, let’s celebrate and explore the sounds our devices can make. Just don’t throw out the guitars, okay? Or the rough-hewn voices either, for that matter.

From the musically underrated city of Charleston, South Carolina, Susto is a full-fledged six-piece band, and it is the spacious, intentional interplay of a half-dozen genuine musicians that fuels this song’s confident momentum. For example, when there is a dedicated keyboard player, the keyboard parts are inherently more thoughtful and engaging, or at least should be. Here, I like the rinky-tink piano we hear at the outside but even more I like the classic rock organ that oozes into background as the song unfolds. Likewise, a band with a lead guitarist and a rhythm guitarist can, ideally, create richer textures—sounds that you don’t always hear specifically but that add deeply to the ear’s sense of completion and certainty.

Susto has its roots in front man Justin Osborne’s trip to Cuba last year. Previously lead singer in the band Sequoyah Prep School, Osborne ended up back in Charleston to flesh out music that originated during his Cuban sojourn, first hooking up with his friend Johnny Delaware and soon adding four others to create the six-piece Susto. (Fingertips followers may remember Delaware from his most excellent song “Primitive Style,” which was featured here last year and later landed at number four in the year’s top 10 favorite list.) “Acid Boys” can be found on Susto’s debut, self-titled album, which was released in April. You can listen to the whole thing and purchase it directly from the band’s web site.

photo credit: Paul Andrew Dunker