by Fred Mills
In 1999 Dave Shouse was fronting Those Bastard Souls, whose well-received V2 album Debt & Departure was as vividly progadelic as Shouse’s earlier work with Memphis lo-fi kings the Grifters was bluesily avant-indie. But working on the next TBS record a year later (significantly, with only the band’s rhythm section in tow), Shouse realized, as he put it in a recent e-mail correspondence, “A new muse had crept into the songwriting, ripped out the old wiring and sent me off on a tangent. I ended up doing [most of it] alone at home on eight-track.” Opting to leak the results quietly to the public, Shouse formed a new touring trio (with Jason Paxton on keyboards and Paul Taylor on drums) to “play shows and see where the music might take us.”
Judging by the seed material the trio has to work with, the Bloodthirsty Lovers — fresh off a tour with Guided By Voices and currently opening for Enon — is headed straight into the stratosphere. The album kicks off with the kinetic electro-glam pop of “Telepathic” then proceeds forth into dimensions decorated in cyberpunkish fluorescent; “1,000 Light Yrs. From Home” is Ziggy Stardust re-envisioned by Todd Rundgren, while the echo-drenched beats and strafing guitars of “Hardcore” wouldn’t be out of place on a Primal Scream or Love & Rockets album. A number of songs, lushly layered with effects, additionally suggest a fascination on Shouse’s part with ambient techno, albeit with a firm classic-pop underpinning. Throughout, though, Shouse maintains a vigorous stance and a sense of humor about the tangents his muse is charting: Against the thumping percussion, rollicking piano and zooming synth lines of “Turning The World Upside Down” he claims he’s “getting over the feeling of losing control” then surreally namechecks Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother.
Ground control to Maj. Dave — I think you made it. How’s the air up there?
E-mail Fred Mills at email@example.com.