Kentucky guitar slinger Mike Shouse looks like a cross between vocalist Rob Halford and guitarist Joe Satriani; thankfully he plays more like the latter and definitely doesn't sing. Reflecting influences which include Gilbert, Petrucci, Vai, Wylde, Vaughn and many others, Shouse has been at his craft for 20 years, and on his second independent release 'Alone On The Sun,' it certainly shows.
Shouse definitely has his chops down. He can shred with the best; fortunately for us, Shouse has some genuine creativity. Tunes like 'Choices,' 'Alone On The Sun,' or 'You Can Fly' demonstrate that he can craft a whole song developing a melodic arrangement and also blister up and down the fret board. Shouse also displays versatility: his guitar style can move between hard rock and heavy metal within a song. When he does this he keeps your interest for what's next rather than simply reminding you that he's a lick busting guitar hero. Most of the greats already know that we know that they know that they can play; Shouse never over indulges to the point of false humility. I think he knows we hate that stuff. Yet, with that said, for simply amazing kick ass and sizzling fret work you can't beat 'Bionic' (if you skip the ludicrous intro) and 'Dead In Memphis.'
Regarding the latter, realizing he's from down south Kentucky way, you would expect some of those southern influences in his music. It rises on 'Dead In Memphis,' 'Don't Remember Me', and on the best track, the reworking of the classic folk/bluegrass number, 'Man Of Constant Sorrow' (which dates back to 1913 and has been recorded by the likes of Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart).
Additional positives would include the outstanding supporting cast Shouse recruited as backup, with my kudos in particular to drummers Charlie Zeleny and Diego 'Grom' Meraviglia and bassist Kyle Honea. The only significant downsides were in the production which was mostly uneven and even horrible at times as on the opening cut 'Bionic.' If it were not for the promise of Shouse's guitar work ahead, I may have not made it past the opening track.
Overall, Mike Shouse's 'Alone On The Sun' is a solid expression of his experience, skill, and style as a guitarist. His compositions, though seemingly more of the same from another guitar virtuoso, demonstrate his ability to craft a complete melodic composition involving all participants and still soar on his guitar at the same time. Recommended!
Mike Shouse's 'Alone On The Sun' is a solid expression of his experience, skill, and style as a guitarist. His compositions, though seemingly more of the same from another guitar virtuoso, demonstrate his ability to craft a complete melodic composition involving all participants and still soar on his guitar at the same time.
With a cursory scan of the Internet, even before their first album is released, some are calling Phantasma a symphonic supergroup. There's good reason for some such speculation. Phantasma features the collaboration of founders ... [ Read More ]