Elevate Difference

Twentieth Century Chemical

Those Bastard Souls is the side project of The Grifters’ David Shouse. The album Twentieth Century Chemical is a reissue; it was first released in 1996. To be honest, I haven’t heard of Shouse’s main gig. I don’t know anything about his other band either. Relying on the liner notes supplied by Shouse and a small entry from the Wikipedia, the name Those Bastard Souls might pertain to his idea of rotating musicians who helped him put out the project recording it in six different studios in Europe. My last resort was to trust the songs coming out from Twentieth Century Chemical.

Apart from the original twelve tracks, seven songs have been added in this new version, mostly, unreleased stuff. Twentieth Century Chemical is a product of a five-year musical collaboration. Shouse gathered all his musician friends to work on it. It served as his creative pause from The Grifters with no expectations of the album being a commercial success. Among those who gave a helping hand were Joan Wasser of The Dambuilders, Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips, and a host of other guitarists and drummers, including the ex-band members of the late Jeff Buckley, who, by the way, was a close friend of Shouse and Wasser’s former lover. Of all the musicians who came and went, only Wasser and Matt Fields of God and Texas and Red Red Meat would remain until the end.

I’d like to say forget track one thinking that it was just a “silly” filler. But after spending a few times listening to it, it has become so hilarious that it is the proper way of introducing the band. The honky-tonk melody of “These Things Will Slay You Every Time” packs a good punch. The track “Curious State I’m In” has an infectious chorus you can’t help singing along with at the end. Unfortunately, there’s a part in the album where a few tracks lose a certain momentum leaving the listeners empty.

Shouse is right. Twentieth Century Chemical might not be his ticket to success, but it is a decent record that you can crank up whenever you need some diversion. This is one of those records that grows on you the more you listen to it.

Written by: Elen P. Farkas, November 12th 2009