Eustis, 'Hideaway' | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Eustis, 'Hideaway'

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Published July 20, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.


(Self-released, digital)

When you've interviewed as many Vermont musicians as I have, you hear a lot of things about their cohort. The consensus on Dan Bishop is that he's in demand, held in high regard and, quite frankly, cherished. Primarily known as a bassist, he shows up in jazz combos, indie rock groups, global music ensembles and jam bands. He's everywhere, providing a solid, rhythmic foundation and steadying background presence, both musically and through his personal energy.

But with Hideaway, his first release under the moniker Eustis, Bishop does something new: He takes center stage. By email, he explained that he's tried to get a solo project off the ground for nearly two decades, writing songs as far back as age 12. But he never liked anything that came out.

Bishop explained that his songwriting changed after he read a passage that said writers should betray themselves. Something clicked. He was finally able to funnel his "deepest regrets and pitfalls and fears and shame" into a project that felt right. Audiences will be enthralled by his ability to balance dark thoughts with music that's fun to listen to.

Working with a few interconnected collaborators, such as locals Jeremy Mendicino and Ezra Oklan (Matthew Mercury) and New York-based producer Joel Hamilton (who worked with Dwight + Nicole, another of Oklan's projects), Bishop creates propulsive pop-rock outfitted with extravagant synth lines, tightly crafted beats and veneers of vocal filters. Everything sounds highly considered and deliberate.

Bishop and company summon the urgency and vibrancy of the Strokes and '00s British post-punk revivalists such as Bloc Party and Kasabian to have a devilishly good time on the first three cuts, "How We Play," "30" and "No Exit (Between the Eyes)." Less than three minutes apiece, the hefty songs are packed with power chords and freight-train drums that propel Bishop's tormented lyrics.

The Jean-Paul Sartre-referencing third track isn't the only one on which Bishop reveals a fixation on death. It's a recurrent theme, a permanent specter in the artist's life.

Production wizardry aside, Bishop's fearless honesty is something to hear. He sounds racked with guilt and crushed by chronic depression. "Used to drink all night and fuck away the pain," he sings on "Half the Time," the words dripping out in metered spurts on the faux slow-jam. Underneath his confessions, churning atmospherics snap into focus as a throbbing club beat and then dissolve. The contrast suggests a party/morning-after dichotomy, a vicious cycle.

Bishop says it all on the mid-tempo, self-flagellating "slowdown." Between cartoonish slurps, silly scatting, soft-edged synths and gravelly bass, he muses, "Goddamn / I think I just did it again / I fucked up / Time to punish myself for the next three months."

On Hideaway, Bishop proves that bravery and tenacity pay off. If you have something to say, find a way to say it — even if it takes decades.

Hideaway is available at eustis.bandcamp.com.