Highly Suspect, "The Boy Who Died Wolf" (300 Entertainment)
When the rock band Highly Suspect nabbed two Grammy nominations last year, the world collectively went: "Wait, what?" They won't do that after listening to the band's stellar sophomore effort.
"The Boy Who Died Wolf" is like a victory lap of rock, from the simple, piano-driven "Chicago" that Elton John would be proud to write, to the screaming hardcore punk of "Look Alive, Stay Alive" that might sound fine on a Black Flag greatest hits album.
This former cover band from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is made up of lead vocalist, lyricist and guitarist Johnny Stevens and twin brothers Rich (bass) and Ryan (drums) Meyer. Their Grammy-nominated debut, "Mister Asylum," had their biggest song to date, "Lydia."
That will surely change after listeners hear their astonishing range under producer Joel Hamilton. There's the glorious throwback '70s prog-rock of "Wolf," the fuzzy-guitar, arena rock of "My Name Is Human" and — in a nod to their roots — a superb, understated cover of Real Life's "Send Me an Angel."
There's something here for anyone. Like Nine Inch Nails? Try the drum-heavy, distorted "F.W.Y.T." Love Nirvana? Check out the playful tune about moving to California, "Serotonia," with the promise: "I'm gonna melt into the sand/Slow dance with Elizabeth Taylor."
"The Boy Who Died Wolf" finds the band in a regretful mood, looking back at lost lovers and friends, unsure of their direction. "You think you know me/I wish I did too," Stevens sings. We're just happy to be along for the ride.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits