Mike Slayen

#729.4: LeBrain’s Unorthodox Top 10 of 2018

Given everything that happened in 2018 (cancer, more cancer, death), I wasn’t as tuned-in to rock and roll as I normally would be.  I missed a lot of new releases, some on purpose, others by accident.  Therefore, this year I’m doing something different from my Top Lists of 2018.  Before we get to the lists, let’s talk about the past 12 months.


2018: RELEASES IN A NUTSHELL

January saw new CDs by Joe Satriani and Corrosion of Conformity, finally reunited with Pepper Keenan on vocals.  There was new Loudness, and a release by Beth Hart & Joe BonamassaDef Leppard had a low-key EP exclusive to iTunes (The Lost Session).  In February we got the return of the mighty Saxon.  March was a big month, featuring Judas Priest, Stone Temple Pilots, Jack White and Myles Kennedy.  The rock kept rolling in April.  The big metal one here was Stryper‘s God Damn Evil, along with new Godsmack and Thirty Seconds to Mars.  During this time I was personally only able to get the Stryper and Priest.

As temperatures warmed in May, Bad Wolves came out with their novelty cover of “Zombie” by the Cranberries which became a predictable hit.  Frank Turner and Five Finger Death Punch also released new records in May.  News in June was unfortunately dominated by Kanye West and Drake, but don’t forget Ghost, The Darkness (with their first live) and Nine Inch Nails!  In July, Halestorm came out with the critically acclaimed ViciousAlice in Chains made their long awaited return in August with Rainier Fog, an album I bought but have not yet fully penetrated.

Autumn began with the biggest name in rock and roll, Sir Paul McCartney himself.  SlashPaul Simon, Lenny Kravitz and Suicidal Tendencies had records out on the same day.  VoiVod, Therapy?, Metric and even Rod Stewart returned in September as well.  October featured two big soundtracks:  Bohemian Rhapsody, and A Star Is BornAce Frehley, Greta Van Fleet, and The Struts came out with new music the same month.  In November we got Mark Knopfler, the Smashing Pumpkins, Ted Nugent and yet another live Beth Hart.  The month closed with the latest Def Leppard best-of.  December boasted Metal Church but not a lot of rock.  Thank the Metal Gods that Max the Axe swooped in with Status Electric to save the year.


I spent most of 2018 checked out mentally.  I missed most of the new releases and have a lot to catch up on.  The summer was spent on Highway 401, and a flash drive loaded with music helped me survive it.  New releases were not the be-all and end-all for me.  Therefore, my Top Albums of 2018 list includes some oldies that just helped me get through it all.  It seems right to do it this way, since I can’t really do a well-curated list of new releases without absorbing them properly.

TOP 10 ALBUMS THAT GOT ME THROUGH 2018

  1. Blotto – Combo Akimbo (1982)
  2. Max the Axe – Status Electric (2018)
  3. Ghost – Prequelle (2018)
  4. The Darkness – Live at Hammersmith  (2018)
  5. Judas Priest – Firepower (2018)
  6. Blotto – Tonight At Toad’s (1982)
  7. Ace Frehley – Spaceman (2018)
  8. Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson & Steve Vai – G3 Live in Concert (1997)
  9. The Sword – Used Future (2018)
  10. Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds (1978)

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  1. Fu Manchu – Clone of the Universe (2018)
  2. Hello Hopeless – Dark Pasts, Brighter Futures (2018)
  3. Mike Slayen – Dude: A Guitar CD (2018)

TOP MOVIES OF 2018

Can’t do a movie list this year.  Not possible.  I didn’t see ’em all, but one movie blew away all the rest.

  1. Avengers: Infinity War

A PEEK AT 2019

What’s hot for 2019?

  1. Star Wars:  Episode IX
  2. Motley Crue‘s long awaited movie The Dirt, and new songs too.
  3. Dream Theater – Distance Over Time
  4. Avengers:  Endgame
  5. Queensryche – The Verdict

Stay tuned….

 

 

 

Advertisements

REVIEW: Mike Slayen – DUDE: A Guitar CD (2018)

MIKE SLAYEN – DUDE: A Guitar CD – 12 Notes & the Truth (2018 Mike Slayen)

San Diego’s Mike Slayen crowdfunded his latest album, titled DUDE: A Guitar CD.  I think Mike was born with the perfect name; after all, he’s just slayin’ it on this album.

The format is laid back acoustic instrumentals.  Upon first track “Chill”, you’ll be hooked immediately.  Slayen’s writing on DUDE is consistently memorable.   The arrangements have just enough meat — bass, drums/percussion and occasional keys back up the main guitar melodies.  The key element to each song is the lead melody.  Similar to fellows like Joe Satriani, Mike writes catchy guitar melodies to take the focus.  Each track is memorable for that reason.

The musicianship and recording is immaculate.  The warm atmosphere is inviting for return listens.  DUDE is a perfect CD for chilling and relaxing and it’ll work particularly well on the porch during summer.  Mike explores different tempos, and demonstrates an intimate knowledge of the acoustic guitar with his intricate picking.  Yes intricate at times, but never anything less than enjoyable.  DUDE is a guitar CD but not necessarily for guitarists.  DUDE is just a good CD to have for folks who enjoy relaxing and memorable music.

Check out songs such as “The Secret”, “Ice Cream” and “Chill” for a taste of what Mike Slayen does on DUDE.  There are exotic and latin influences along the way, and enough variety to make the CD an easy one to listen through.  There is even one fairly heavy piece — heavy for acoustic anyway — which is the title track “Dude”.

Go to MikeSlayen.com and check out DUDE.  Discerning fans of instrumental guitar music are unlikely to be disappointed.

4/5 stars

Full disclosure:  I first “met” Mike Slayen as a reader on this site.  I believe that this review is impartial and I would have given DUDE the same score even if I didn’t know Mike.