SHOUSE – Alone On The Sun

SHOUSE - Alone On The Sun
  • 7/10
    SHOUSE - Alone On The Sun - 7/10


Release date: June 1, 2010

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Alone On the Sun is Mike Shouse’s second Instrumental CD on an Independent label consisting of eight Instrumental tracks and two vocal tracks. One of the vocal tracks is a Rock version of a well known Bluegrass hit titled “Man Of Constant Sorrow.” Hailing from Lexington, Kentucky, it can be understood why Shouse decided to put the two vocal tracks he selected on the new album, especially “Man of Constant Sorrow.” Considering the fact that selecting Metal Express Radio to do an album review of Alone On the Sun was a risky decision because of the two vocal tracks themselves. When the listeners hear these two particular tracks, the second being “Don’t Remember Me,” they will clearly understand the point being made. The first of the two tracks mentioned just don’t belong in any way, shape, or form while the second vocal track is just annoying to listen through from beginning to end. Perhaps it is a Southern accent trying to get through in some special way or maybe it’s just the way the words of the song are being drawn out during the repetitive title being sung over and over again. Whatever the case, they clearly shouldn’t be on an Instrumental album of this nature. Having gotten that out of the way, the rest of the album can be examined in a more relaxed fashion.

After playing for twenty years and being versed in numerous styles of music to boot, this second Instrumental album by Shouse should be all the proof one needs to see how far Mike has evolved over the years. Mike opts to open his new album with a tune labeled “Bionic.” It is not clear whether or not Mike watched the Six Million Dollar Man show on television in his younger days or not but the listener could surely do without the minute or so in length of gibberish he/she has to listen through in order to get to the beginning of the song. Entitled “Bionic” is the perfect name that comes to mind after going through the opening minute of torture in a sense. After listening to a little over five minutes of non-stop shredding and nothing else, perhaps “Bionic” was not the best choice for the title. Thank god that the closing few seconds of the same type of gibberish that begins the song is just that, a few seconds in the closing moments and not more than that. After enduring all that, the hillbilly tune comes next and since it was brought to the listeners’ attention in the opening paragraph, there is no need to elaborate any further on the subject. All that will be mentioned here is that the selection of these first two tunes back to back might not have been in the best interest of the album.

Luckily the third track “The Arabian” starts off better than its predecessors did. While clearly an Instrumental tune and nothing more, it has some substance to it and seems to go to different places throughout the entire tune. It has some pretty good guitar work by Mike in it as well. The bass and drums form a strong foundation for the tune and the repetitive nature of the bass line is one that sticks with you even after the song is over. “Choices” is a good track to follow up with and again shows the versatility of Mike’s guitar playing. This is a nice tune that shows many different styles of intricate guitar work backed up by some fine and solid drumming and bass playing. Some real nice guitar on that one definitely.

The title track is next in line. When one listens to the title track of any album, one usually expects to hear something special or better than the other tracks on the same album. In this case “Alone On the Sun” isn’t that special that you can’t wait to hear it again nor is it much better than the other tracks. What is true however is the fact that more of Mike’s guitar work and style that hasn’t been touched upon yet shines through and blends nicely with some more fantastic bass and drum work.

“Shock and Awe” opens right off the bat with a catchy guitar riff that is complemented with an equally persistent and deep pounding bass line that is a strong foundation or backbone of the tune. It allows Shouse to go off and wander with his six-string while a strong rhythm section holds down the fort. Mike has some more electric (no pun intended) moments in this one. One can hear some very soft yet effective guitar play leading up to the opening moments of the song that are way too cool to pass up mentioning. It’s nothing mind-blowing but it deserves notice. The war sound effects probably wouldn’t be missed if they weren’t in there.

“You Can Fly” has a beautiful sounding acoustic opening that’s a lead-in for Mike taking over with his electric guitar. This track has a very strange and unique bass line that doesn’t just end there. The drumming and the guitar work also take a hit. This is just a very weird sounding track from the time signature perspective. It’s not a bad thing in any way but takes some time in getting used to. “Dead In Memphis” opens with a bang. It has you rockin’ in no time flat with its energy that is hard to miss. Mike’s playing is interesting enough that makes one curious to see what he will come up with next throughout this track.

Next to follow is the second of two vocal tracks. In order to save time, please refer to the opening paragraph. The closing track is titled “For Alex.” Unfortunately not knowing who Alex is or might be brings us to a dead end as far as the title is concerned. The good thing is that the song has a beautiful sound to it done with just the right amount of feeling, much slower and mellower than the previous nine tracks but done in a very tasteful fashion. A nice surprise for the finish indeed.

This sophomore project of Shouse has him performing all of the guitar work, keyboard duties, and backing vocals. Perhaps Shouse should have also sung on “Man Of Constant Sorrow” and “Don’t Remember Me” instead of doing backup which would have possibly saved those two tracks. Shouse did all of the recording and composing at his home studio and used eight different session bassists along with three different session drummers from all around the world to aid him in the making of his latest release. The final product is what it is and will undoubtedly form different opinions by all who take the time to give it at least a once over. Is this record worthy enough that you must run to the store the day it is released…NO, but if you are a true Instrumental or guitar fan, it is good enough to pick up a copy for your collection. Happy listening!


  • George Fustos

    George was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He has engineering degrees in Chemical and Electrical Engineering. He favors Metal, Rock, Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Blues, and even some Jazz and Motown (depending on the tune). He used to dabble with the bass quite some time ago. His most influential bassists are Jaco, Billy Sheehan, Stu Hamm, Geddy Lee, and John Entwistle (RIP Ox). Band-wise he's really into Rush, Tool, early Metallica, Pink Floyd (including Waters and Gilmour as solo artists), The Who, Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, Halford, Joe Satriani, certain Judas Priest, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins (Blues guitarist), Motörhead, and a German band called Skew Siskin that Lemmy says in an interview as being "the best band out there today."

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