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

Regarding the departure of Nick Catanese from Black Label Society

black-label-society-2013

 

The opinions reflected herein are mine and mine alone.

As we all have heard by now our favorite “Evil Twin” has decided to part ways with Black Label Society. While we are all saddened to hear this news we should also celebrate Nick and his time in the band. It has always been my belief that Black Label Society is bigger than its members. We have seen members come and go and yet BLS remains strong. SDMF is our credo and we should always try to live to it. I applaud Zakk for giving musicians such as Phil Ondich, Steve Gibb, Craig Nunemacher, Mike Inez, Robert Trujillo, James LoMenzo, Will Hunt, Mike Froedge, Johnny Kelly, Jeff Fabb their time with BLS.

We will get through this change as we always have. Nick will be ok and we will get new music to know and love from him and his future projects.

Best wishes Nick We love you Beyond Forever.

STRENGTH DETERMINATION MERCILESS FOREVER – is it in you?

it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s BLS ….now GI/FD

the Hellion

 

 

WHEN A BAND CHANGES DIRECTION (OR DOESN’T)

How many times have you heard “This band sold out” or “That band went mainstream”? I have heard this about several bands throughout the years. Let;s take a look at several bands that have “changed direction” , or have stayed the same and if that has worked for them.

     QUEEN 1971 – 1991 the Freddie Mercury years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen remains one of my favorite bands of all times. The band was constantly evolving and changing throughout their career. They explored many styles of music during their recording career. They were never afraid to branch out and explore their creativity. Here are two songs that show their diversity. The world lost a beautiful soul when Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991, we will forever miss and love you Freddie, thank you for your music. Queen pulled off, to great success, changing directions.

“Keep Yourself Alive” from QUEEN – 1973

“These Are The Days Of Our Lives” from INNUENDO – 1991

MEGADETH 1983 to present

Megadeth is a band who has stayed true to their original vision. Their style of speed/thrash metal has pretty much been a constant throughout their career. While some will say it has hurt their career, their fans remain loyal, and their record sales constant. I say cheers to Dave and crew (though they have changed over the years) keep it going! Staying true to their direction has worked for Megadeth.

“Peace Sells” from Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying? – 1986

“Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)” from Th1rt3en – 2011

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS 1983 to present

This band has always been in a special place in my heart. Never afraid to be who they are, always giving their all to their fans. Their members and styles have changed throughout the years but they have always managed to pull it off. Playing what they want to and disregarding the critics their music reflects the colorful personalities that infuse this band. Many people have tried to pigeonhole this band to a certain genre, to no avail. I call them a Rock N’ Roll band PERIOD. Thank you RHCP, you have given my soul much joy. Keep growing and evolving and stay true to your passions.

“True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes” from The Red Hot Chili Peppers – 1984

“The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie” – from I’m With You – 2011

METALLICA – 1981 to present

Ahhh Metallica, the source of great contention amongst metal heads. Some say they sold out with the “Black” album, some say they didn’t. I think they have made some questionable choices in the past years, but they remain strong as one of the driving forces in metal music. As part of being human we are constantly changing and growing (well, some of us do) as the events surrounding us dictate. The guys in Metallica are not immune. Growing older, gaining families, becoming financially stable HAS to affect them, and their music. I, for one, appreciate that fact and despite their making some music that does not always appeal to me I stand by this band and remain a fan. R.I.P. Cliff Burton, miss you!

“No Remorse” from Kill ‘Em All – 1983

“All Nightmare Long” from Death Magnetic – 2008

GUNS N’ ROSES 1985 to present???

GNR WHAT HAPPENED?!?!?!? They were poised to take over the world and instead they burned it down. The energy of the the five original members was the perfect combination. Then the backup singers, the keyboard players, the horn section, etc… etc… sigh. I know this band has been the topic of great controversy, and probably will remain so for a long, long time. I will always remain in love with early GNR and the music they made and I am grateful for that, post original five, not so much. I personally believe the direction that the band took killed them (this is my humble opinion). Oh well we have our memories…. if we could only find our way back to the jungle.

“Welcome To The Jungle” from Appetite For Destruction – 1987

“This I Love” from Chinese Democracy – 2008

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY 1998 to present

Ahhh BLS, now here’s a band that I totally get. Members have come and gone and yet this band gets stronger and stronger. Great music year after year, record after record and a loyal fan base that unifies together as one big BLS family. Zakk Wylde never shies away from playing whatever he wants, piano based ballads, acoustic songs, full out electric, it matters not to Zakk. With BLS it never grows stagnant and you will never be bored! GI/FD!!!

“Born To Lose” from Sonic Brew – 1999

“Overlord” from Order Of The Black – 2010

These are just my opinions on bands that have (or have not) changed direction, please feel free to comment or message me with your ideas or thoughts and I will post them here.

the Hellion