Bands to Watch (2008): Hi Electric

Came across my copy of Those Bastard Souls ‘Debt & Departure’ the other day and popped it in the old CD player to revisit the music that I hadn’t listened to in a few years. The band was started by ex-Grifters singer Dave Shouse who was looking for a more personal outlet for his songs (coincidentally, the Grifters came up recently on a message board I frequent). After TBS ran their course, Shouse started Bloodthirsty Lovers but that band seems to have run it’s course as well. So what is Shouse doing these days? A quick search on MySpace revealed a band called Hi Electric which listed a Dave Shouse as the keyboard player.

I was instantly taken aback by the 3 tracks available to stream on the MySpace site, particularly “Someone Else’s Name” which I’ve probably listened to a dozen times this week. I hear bits and pieces of everybody from the Beatles to Queens of the Stone Age to the Foo Fighters in the music – a really rich, dark pop sound that I just love. And “Handshake Ethics” sounds like a mix of the Posies and Blind Melon to me. Other than Shouse’s name, though, I didn’t recognize any of the other members so I sent off an email asking somebody from the band to give me the lowdown. Lead singer Neil Bartlett gave me the lowdown:

Hi, my name is Neil, I write all the songs for Hi Electric and sing and play guitar. Steve Selvidge from Big Ass Truck and Bloodthirsty Lovers found me on MySpace and offered to produce a record. We recorded a few songs at his home, and then started getting a live band together, at this same time Dave Shouse mentioned to Steve that he was wanting to get out and play some more, and so Steve invited him to join, and Dave has been a really amazing part of our band ever since. Kevin Cubbins, guitar, is from the Pawtuckets, Robert Barnett, drums, is from Big Ass Truck, Vending Machine, and a handful of other projects. Me and Allen, bass, are not as well known around Memphis as our counterparts. The recordings done at Steve’s house are mostly demo quality and also the songs have become a little grittier since we started playing out live. In 2008 we hope to do a series of singles before working on a full length, and I would doubt that we would be playing SXSW this year, but next year is definitely a possibility. I’ve still got one more year left in college, so the plan is to hang out in Memphis for a while and really see what kind of attention we can get.

Keep your eyes on this kid and his band, it’s some really, really good stuff.


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