Monte Pittman releases Inverted Grasp Of Balance

 

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    I recently received the new Monte Pittman record Inverted Grasp Of Balance for review. Little did I know that it would cause me to have a profound revelation to a question I have been seeking an answer to.  Over the years of recorded music people have been trying to answer the question: What makes a record good? There has been a myriad of answers that run the gamut of the music industry. The problem is most of the answers that have been provided are subjective to the answerer and biased to their own opinions. For me, at least, I feel that I have finally answered said question. A good record is one that when you put it on you find yourself turning it up, tapping your foot or nodding your head to the beat, and when it’s over you find yourself feeling as if you just got back from…somewhere.

     I was excited to review this record as I have spoken with Monte before and have enjoyed his previous work. I didn’t realize that I would spend the rest of the day and the next listening to it on repeat and still humming the songs long after. There is a level of craftsmanship to this record that is hard to find these days (one other is the work of Jeff Sandoval and Mike Araiza). There is no doubt that music flows through the soul of Monte Pittman and I hear nods to so many musicians in his playing and writing.  When a record is made for the purpose of sharing what one feels in their minds ear, it is profound and beautiful.

      Inverted Grasp Of Balance  features Monte on guitars and vocals, Richard Christy (Charred Walls Of The Damned, Iced Earth, Death) on drums, and…..wait for it….Billy Sheehan, yes I said Billy Sheehan (David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, Winery Dogs, just to name a few) on bass. Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Steel Panther) handled the production duties and the record sounds clean and crisp. I read somewhere that Monte recorded his guitar parts while on the road, but this record feels so organic to me and it feels like someone turned on a mic in a jam room and captured some live magic.

     Inverted Grasp Of Balance gives us twelve tracks which flow together beautifully and I guarantee you will NOT find yourself reaching for the skip button, in fact you WILL find yourself reaching for the repeat button.

     If you have to pin me down for stand out tracks I would have to say “Skeleton Key” just reaches out to me the most. This track, in my opinion should be on every radio station across the planet, period. It’s just good rock n’ roll that gets in your head.I find myself just humming throughout the day.  “California” opens with bass that just drips with cool and is pure Billy Sheehan and then paints a picture in your mind of being on a cool road trip with the radio blasting, the wind in your hair, and your best friends at your side.  “New Blood Keeps Us Alive” is an epic track that, again, I feel should be blasting out of every speaker across the world. It begins with some wonderfully beautiful acoustic work that grows to some powerful rock n’ roll worthy of note. This song opens up the mind and makes you reflect on life.

      Monte’s guitar work is across the map on Inverted Grasp Of Balance, taking from gentle acoustic to balls out shredding, and it all works in connection with each other. Not only is there stellar guitar work here Monte’s vocal work is strong and epic as well. The songwriting on  Inverted Grasp Of Balance is something else. Monte has reached deep within and written some deep compositions that I believe were truly from the point of artistry.  Combine all of that with great drumming and legendary bass playing this is a music lovers wet-dream.

          Inverted Grasp Of Balance drops on Sept 23 on Metal Blade Records make sure you do NOT miss out on this record.

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 Inverted Grasp Of Balance track-listing
1. Panic Attack
2. Arisen in Broad Daylight
3. Guilty Pleasure
4. The Times Are Changing
5. Double Edged Sword
6. Cadabra
7. Pride Comes Before the Fall
8. California
9. Be Very Afraid
10. Obliterated
11. Skeleton Key
12. New Blood Keeps Us Alive

Pre-order “Inverted Grasp of Balance” at metalblade.com/montepittman/

Monte Pittman online:
http://www.montepittman.com
https://www.facebook.com/MontePittman
http://www.youtube.com/MontePittmanMusic
https://soundcloud.com/montepittman
http://twitter.com/montepittman
http://www.instagram.com/montepittman
https://montepittman.bandpage.com
https://myspace.com/montepittman

     it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s Monte Pittman

     -the Hellion

Sandoval/Araiza: Project Playlist

If I were to have to give a quote about the music Jeff Sandoval and Mike Araiza make, it would be this: “This is music as it should be, no preconceived formula here. These guys write and play what they “feel” and that, my friends, is the true spirit of music.”

I’ve known these two guys for a while now and it had been my great fortune to have been at the birth of most of their work. Of The Earth, Frank Hannon Band and now as Jeff and Mike.

That being said, let’s talk about their latest effort  Project Playlist. I cannot tell you how many times I received a text or an excited phone call from Mike telling me to “check out this riff” or “what do you think about this?” there was passion in those messages and that fervor and passion found its way to the record untarnished. Jeff, on the other hand, is like a Zen Master, calm, cool, and collected. His lyrics and powerful yet smooth vocals carry weight and presence that in my opinion border on legendary. Let’s get into the tracks and stroll around a bit.

Project Playlist opens with “The Good Fight” (which happens to be my go to track on this record). Have you ever heard a song that just stays with you? I mean one that you find yourself hitting repeat over and over again? One that you manage to find something new with each listen? You find yourself absent-mindedly humming or tapping the beat throughout the day? “The Good Fight” just happens to be a song like that. Even cooler is that a couple of my close friends wrote it. I tried to put that aside and came to the conclusion that the fact that they were my friends was irrelevant, this is a damn good song, period. As I continued to listen to “The Good Fight” I compared it side by side with other songs and artists I consider in the same vein. This comparison led me to the conclusion that this track by a couple of guys that live in my town and I know personally can go toe to toe with artists like SIXX A.M., Pop Evil, STP, etc., etc. This track features studio wizard Chris Collier on drums and bass as well as production.

“So Long”, featuring Will Hunt on Drums, has a fresh , yet  familiar feeling and yet stays unique. Powerful and yet not abrasive in away this is a song that one could use to set the pace of their impending day. Feeling good and energetic is what this track brings to me.

“It’s All I need” features Kurt Arft on bass and Chris Collier on drums and really packs a punch. Deep lyrics and Jeff’s powerful vocals give this song some weight. This is a heavy song but not overbearing if you get my meaning. Their craftsmanship shines through here.

“Beggars And Thieves” features Kurt Arft again on bass and Will Hunt on drums. This track is probably the “grooviest” one on the record and will have your head bobbing and foot tapping as soon as you start listening to it. There’s a couple of twin guitar parts that Mike just kills with.

Project Playlist closes out with “No Answer” which features Frank Hannon has that 70’s vibe that just goes so well with this song. I love the guitar wok in this track. Nice way to close out the record with some quality music and friends.

What do we ultimately get with Project Playlist? A Rock and Roll record that stands up in this turbulent time in the music industry. Jeff and Mike said “Damn the norm, we’re gonna make the music that we feel inside” and it works, on so many levels. Music at its purest level is what we have here folks.

I must also give shout outs to Kurt Arft, Will Hunt, and Frank Hannon for stepping up and going toe to toe with Jeff and Mike. Their performances are outstanding on this record. I didn’t forget Chris Collier, not only did he deliver some killer bass and drums, like a mad scientist he grafted it all together to deliver a superior recording. I think that in today’s DIY music industry production quality has suffered at the hands of inexperience in record production. Jeff and Mike know the value of a properly produced record and have developed a relationship with Chris that works.

So, after all of that why should you get a copy of Project Playlist? I could say because they are my friends and it would be cool to help them out, but I’m not. You should get this record because it’s great music, that’s it in a nutshell.

Now, you only have until Friday 08/12/16 to get your order in at https://squareup.com/store/JeffAndMike  after that you will only be able to pick it up at live performances. Good news is new music is already being made so stay tuned.

Thanks Jeff and Mike for keeping music alive. – the Hellion

the Hellion Rocks talks to Jeff Sandoval and Mike Araiza about their new release Project Playlist

If any of you are like me, you constantly crave new music. Not just new music but quality music. Jeff Sandoval and Mike Araiza deliver, in spades, with Project Playlist. Jeff and Mike have taken many musical journeys together and have included me along the way. Check out this heartfelt discussion we had about how they got to where they are today. When you’re done watching I HIGHLY recommend you click on the picture below and order Project Playlist . There will be a detailed song by song review up this Saturday so stay tuned. Project Playlist is currently the front-runner for CD of the year on the Hellion Rocks and that’s no joke.  Order yours today!!!

it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s ROCK AND ROLL!!!

-the Hellion

YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO WATCH IT!

CD Cover

     CLICK THE PICTURE TO ORDER NOW!

Guitarist Mike Araiza and why you should be listening to him

photo credit: Jeff Serpa

photo credit: Jeff Serpa

 

Guitar face, we have all seen it and loved it, but do we really understand it. I have seen that face on Mike Araiza many times. Mike and I have discussed it at great length on many occasions. This is my take on it and why it pertains to Mike.

The first time I saw Mike perform live was at a small bar with an even smaller stage. My wife and I were told about this great cover band called Surface that people were raving about. Mike happened to be one of the guitarist in the band. I was drawn to his playing style like a moth to a flame. Here was this bespectacled bald guy and he was playing like he was performing at the LA Forum, or Madison Square Garden. The raw emotion and soul went from Mike to his guitar, out of his amps and into my musical soul. I was FEELING every note that he was bleeding out. If he could impart that much into the songs of others I could only imagine what his original music would sound like.

I got the chance when Mike along with his musical partner Jeff Sandoval released the powerful Of The Earth EP. Mike continued to bring music that was jam packed with feeling and emotion and yet remained simple and enjoyable. This continued with the subsequent Frank Hannon Six String Soldiers release and the current Jeff Sandoval Mike Araiza Project tracks.

I grew up listening to the now iconic guitar players like EVH, Randy Rhoads, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix….the list goes on and on, and they all had great guitar faces. I am proud to list Mike Araiza among those icons, and even prouder to call him brother.

Mike has a rougher time now days with the music industry being a shambles as it is. It is harder for a quality player like him to be heard on a wide scale. Trust me though, you should be listening to him and his music. It takes me back to those simpler times when you picked up your friends, cranked up the radio, and drove around getting lost in the music and good times. It’s all there again in the music Mike makes.

Do yourself a favor and listen to his music and share it with a friend, they will love you for it.

https://www.facebook.com/JeffandMikeMusic?ref=br_tf

     Check out the guitar face on Mike right here:

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     Thank you for the music Mike, love ya my brother!

     It’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s Mike “Guitar Face” Araiza!!!

     -the Hellion

 

 

Pop Evil, a great show, a great friend, and an interview with Matt DiRito

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Pop Evil rolled into Albuquerque, NM this Monday and kicked some serious ass. It had been a bit since I had last seen them so it was an event I was looking forward to. It was even better because this go around I was going to get to shoot their set AND get to interview bassist Matt DiRito. When I found out about scoring the interview I remembered my very good friend guitarist Mike Araiza (Of The Earth, Frank Hannon Band, the Jeff Sandoval and Mike Araiza Project) telling me about getting to hang with them the last time they were in NM. I called him up and asked him to co-host the interview with me.

We met Matt at the tour bus and it was good to see Matt and Mike great each other like old friends. It was then down into the basement of the iconic Sunshine Theater to have our candid conversation with Matt. After some “mood lighting” adjustments we got around to our raw, unedited, casual conversation with Matt which you can check out right here:

     Very cool, very relaxed, friends and musicians talking amongst themselves. After a few more minutes of friendly talk we snapped a few pics and walked Matt back out to the tour bus and said our “see you laters”.

Matt DiRito and the Hellion

Matt DiRito and the Hellion

Matt DiRito and Mike Araiza

Matt DiRito and Mike Araiza

After the interview Mike and I went for a quick bite and some stimulating conversation. A brief walk back to the venue and the Rock N’ Roll merriment was on. We enjoyed sets from Glamour Of The Kill, Avatar, and Escape The Fate. The evening, however, was owned by Pop Evil. From the minute they took the stage to the minute they walked off of it it was a 100 miles per hour adrenaline rush. A blistering set of songs from a set designed to give the fans a maximum Pop Evil experience filled our ears. Here is the setlist:

“Flawed”
“Hero”
“100 in a 55”
“Behind Closed Doors”
“Divide”
“Monster You Made”
“Boss’s Daughter”
“Last Man Standing”
“Goodbye My Friend”
“Sick Sense”
“Torn To Pieces”
“Deal With The Devil”
“Trenches”

Leigh Kakaty

Leigh Kakaty

Matt DiRito

Matt DiRito

Chachi Riot

Chachi Riot

Dave Grahs

Dave Grahs

Nick Fuelling

Nick Fuelling

Pop Evil is a band on the move, in all of the right ways. They present an image, a sound that pays homage to their influences and yet remains original, they deliver a live show worthy of seeing. If Pop Evil roll into a venue near you make sure you go and see them.  Thanks guys!

it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s Pop Evil!

the Hellion

 

 

 

“It’s All I Need” – Jeff Sandoval and Mike Araiza

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Ok, so I have had this track for a few days now and can’t get enough of it. Jeff and Mike will be releasing the lyric video to the world tonight 01/31/14 at 6pm mst right here: Jeff Sandoval & Mike Araiza on their Facebook page.

Let’s talk a bit about the track and the video. While it is an acoustic track it does not come off that way at all, in fact, it’s pretty damn heavy. Let’s talk about the bass first. Kurt Arft lays down a heavy, dirty bassline that, by itself, does not seem like it belongs in this song but it fits like a puzzle piece into it. Kurt gives it that groove that this song so rightly deserves. Chris Collier, who not played drums on this but produced it as well, put all of those puzzle pieces together into one solid track.

What can I say about Mike Araiza? The guitars on here are clean, and I mean CLEAN. Mike is so full of melody and it truly shows in his playing and style. I keep forgetting that this is an acoustic track.

Ahhh the vocal stylings of Jeff Sandoval. There are not to many vocalists out there that can still give me the chills, Jeff is one of them.  You feel ALL of the emotion that Jeff is imparting into his vocals.

The video for “It’s All I Need” is an incredible piece of work as well. While it is a “lyric”video it leaves you with the images playing over and over in your head. You will find these images replaying in your mind every time you listen to this song.

Don’t miss out on the premier on 01/31/14 at 6pm mst right here: Jeff Sandoval & Mike Araiza on their Facebook page!

the Hellion Rocks presents: Justin Manning of Crowned By Fire

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It’s always great to talk to Justin Manning. We had a great discussion about the new deal Crowned By Fire signed with the newly formed Chrome Mountain Records.1044077_1452670484954224_2072048793_n

 

Make sure you go to Facebook and show Crowned By Fire and Chrome Mountain Records some love:

https://www.facebook.com/CrownedByFire

https://www.facebook.com/ChromeMountainRecords

 

 

This conversation went for about an hour so I’ll keep it short here and let you get to it:

     it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s CROWNED BY FIRE!

the Hellion