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Formed in downtown Detroit during the summer of 2012, the Mike Leslie Band features Mike Leslie on guitars/vocals, Mike Parrott on bass/vocals and Mike Swain on drums. The band have recently released their self-titled debut EP, which contains five evolving tracks.
To start off, “Notice” has a strong, hook-filled rocking sound to kick off the album. The chorus can and probably will get stuck in your head after a few listens. What I enjoyed the most is Mike’s guitar solo near the end. This blues orientated guitar solo is subtle, clean and emotionally charged enough, for you not to pick it out on the first listen, but once you recognize its power, the song feels so much stronger on each subsequent listen.
“Embers” has more of a sprawling arrangement, between tempo and intensity changes, but once again finds perfect solace with another distinctive bluesy guitar solo from Mike. “Nothing To Lose” has strong, early Maroon5 influences, not musically, but in the vocal delivery. It’s probably my least favorite song but by no means unlistenable to the point of skipping it. The song stands out in the sense that it’s the most different track on the Ep, for me anyway, but I think it fits perfectly in the middle, leading the way for the two latter retro tracks. “Sickness” and “Sooner Or Later” are both very ‘Beatle-ish’ and takes us back to the true-blue acid, psychedelic pop/rock sounds of the sixties and early seventies. Just like the musical compositions, every track on this Ep bristles with energy and passion, giving the production a sonic vibrancy reminiscent of the golden, analog and vinyl era.
What’s also extraordinary about the Mike Leslie Band is that the songs that didn’t grab you on the first two or three listens on this Ep will start growing on you in a serious way, rather uncannily, afterwards. It was the same way with a lot of the best Beatles and Rolling Stones stuff way back. Besides all the catchy, up-beat rockers or sweet melodies that grabbed you right away, they had numerous tracks that somehow took more time to capture your attention aurally.
Overall The Mike Leslie Band’s self-titled release delivers straight-forward modern rock, while the band manages to expand on their sound, looking carefully back into the past. If you’re unfamiliar with the band and love rock n’ roll and pop sounds, then I highly recommend this refreshing Ep. MLB have completed a very self-assured and mature album, not one that kicks you in the balls but rather thoughtful and polished. The sound quality is stunningly clear and natural sounding, while the playing is assured and the chemistry between the trio fires on all cylinders throughout.
A solid Ep from beginning to end, go out and pick this one up, you won’t regret it!!
The Mike Leslie Band is a fairly new combo - having been formed in Downtown Detroit during the hot and steamy summer of 2012. Consisting of Mike Leslie (naturally) on guitar and lead vocals; Mike Parrott on bass and vocals and Mike Swain on drums, the trio developed an instant chemistry through jamming an eclectic mix of cover songs. You know the familiar rock band story - Leslie, Parrott and Swain played in several local Detroit bands and finally came together entire by chance; fortuitous moment for band and fans alike.
This five-track debut EP is an excellent sampler of the trio’s somewhat eclectic twist on “classic” pop-rock music, where the emphasis is on hooks, spine tingling melodies and deeply relatable lyrics. The official bio claims that the band prizes the influences of Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, John Lennon, Johnny Cash, Jim Morrison, and Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.
Well, there’s certainly more varied inspirations brewing around in these five songs and it behooves any diligent reviewer to run through the entire track-listing to give you, dear reader, a fair assessment of this EP.
The opening “Notice” contains a potent R&B groove that easily recalls the mid-60s goodness of Cream, The Beatles and (previously mentioned) Jimi Hendrix. Leslie himself does a bang-up job in his dynamic singing and his incendiary lead guitar solos. This soul-rock effort ranks very high on the melody quotient, with the backing vocals strengthening the harmonious vibe of the overall tune. There is an edginess in the lyrics - “This ain’t no fairy tale/Everybody fucks around/Maybe it’s not where you’ve been/But where you’re going now” - that suggest a melancholy, frustrating the protagonist of the piece.
“Embers” sounds very much like a solo Lindsey Buckingham composition from the early 80s. And that’s a compliment! This comparison arises due to the manner in which Leslie fashions the guitar arpeggio and most of all, the melodic and harmonic development that is reminiscent of the musical brains behind the mega-selling Fleetwood Mac. There is also an easy-going West Coast vibe that also channels the mid-70s twangy pomp of The Eagles - it’s slick and catchy, like the best 70s hits were, once upon a time.
“Nothing to Lose” begins the band’s move away from rock territory into more poppier exercises. Naturally, the use of jazzy major sevenths in the chord progressions is a dominant factor and once again, the 70s are resurrected accurately to deliver that crucial soft-pop vibe that simply never goes out of style (if handled properly, of course). Leslie demonstrates the versatility of his vocals, stretching out his range into the higher register, rather effortlessly, it would seem.
If nothing else, the Mike Leslie Band leaves the best to the last with the two Beatlesque power-pop tracks viz “Sickness” and “Sooner or Later”. The former is a raucous number with a chorus that utilizes the time-tested major-minor change that will always reel in the tune lovers, hook line and sinker. There are touches of The Who in the arrangements as well, if one is astute enough to pick up on the subtle references, especially in the breaks. Overall, “Sickness” works well due to the attention to detail afforded by the band - well worth the effort!
“Sooner or Later” begins in a jaunty fashion - employing that similar major-minor construct in the verse this time. Uncannily enough, the chorus is able to match the verse easily enough - quite an achievement - there are several “chills down spine” moments in this refrain. Not only that but Leslie pulls off a tasteful guitar solo that is elegant and classy. Words that come to mind when evaluating “Sooner of Later” in summary.
In conclusion, the Mike Leslie Band EP is essential listening for anyone who loves the shimmering pop-rock/power pop of the 70s and 80s.
Artist: Mike Leslie Band Album Title: Mike Leslie Band EP Review by Kevin Mathews Rating: 4.5 Stars (out of 5)
Check out our interview here!! http://www.midtnmusic.com/mike-leslie-band-interview/
“Mike Leslie Band – EP”
Album Review by Tom Lohrmann
Today’s album review is of “Mike Leslie Band – EP” by Mike Leslie Band. Hailing from Jack White’s hometown of Detroit, Mike Leslie Band is a three-piece rock group influenced by Elton John, Elliott Smith, and the Beatles. You can find their music on their personal website.
The EP begins with “Notice”, a groove track with a Stone Temple Pilots vibe. The pre chorus is very memorable and features an excellent lead guitar part. This track sounds like it belongs on alternative radio, and the vocalist’s tone fit the genre very well. “Embers”, the second song, contained guitars that meshed well together, as well as nice phasing on the vocals. This song displayed the band’s softer side while still staying true to their original sound.
“Nothing to Lose” seems inspired by artists such as John Mayer and Gary Clark Jr, and presents a cliché but memorable guitar line over top of a solid bass line. “Sickness” gives off a 90’s earth rock vibe, positive lyrical elements in the chorus, and a jungle style percussion section. The album finishes with “Sooner or Later”, a retro-sounding song that works well with the drums. The song’s soft vibe closes the record well.
The production on this album was solid throughout. My album highlight was “Notice” due to the brilliant Crybaby Wah guitar line that was featured prominently. I wish Mike Leslie Band the best of luck in their musical career. Take care.
Check it out at http://www.tomlohrmannmusic.com/blog/
Check out this awesome review from indiebandguru.com!! Thank you!
While at the CMJ Music Festival a few weeks back I met an interesting woman who was singing the praises of the new Detroit rock scene. I did listen to her probably because she was pretty hot and let her drag me to a Brooklyn show full of Detroit bred bands. The variety of bands was great and as I spoke to them I noticed one common theme. They were all very passionate about their hometown and regaining its notoriety. Weeks later another band from Detroit reached out to me and started the love affair all over again. Let me introduce you to the Mike Leslie Band. The threesome formed in downtown Detroit just this past summer but the chemistry was just about instant. The band consists of Mike Leslie on guitar, Mike Parrott on Bass, and Mike Swain on drums. Each has been around the Detroit music scene for a while in an assortment of other bands. They got together by chance and started jamming on cover songs. This led to them truly clicking and the original songs began flowing out of the group. The output is fun rock music with pop sensibilities that already seem ready for mainstream radio. There are many influences that jump right out and make themselves known. From song to song you can hear The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and even Nirvana showing that they left an impression on Mike Leslie Band. Although only together a short while the band is on the right track and has already released the Mike Leslie Band EP. It is 5 songs full of singable hooks, chilling melodies, and lyrics that can relate to every listener. The record opens with ‘Notice’, a haunting song with all the necessities; strong vocals, a great guitar solo, and powerful drumming to push it along. ‘Nothing To Lose’ is a sultry track with a Sam Cooke or Maroon 5 feel to it that lets Leslie really show off his voice and sex appeal while the rest of the band provides a backdrop to keep the girls swaying their hips. There is an ode to the radio friendly alt-pop of the mid 90’s with the song ‘Sickness’. The production values seem well beyond a band that has been around for half a year and I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t do the research myself. Mike Leslie Band is definitely one to keep an eye on. Go get some at: