2013 has been quite a year for new rock records. The list of new records vying to make critics’ lists of the year’s best is already cluttered. And the year’s not even out yet. That list already includes releases from the likes of: Pop Evil, Queensryche, Buckcherry, Filter and Joe Satriani just to name a handful of releases. Now with the release of its self-titled release, rock trio The Winery Dogs has added its name to that already massively cluttered landscape. The band—Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, Adrenaline Mob), Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big), and Richie Kotzen (Mr. Big, Poison)—instantly draws comparisons to Chickenfoot from early on with its brand of rock. If one were to listen to this and not know it was another band, one would instantly think one was listening to the latter of the two. Even vocalist Richie Kotzen sounds at times like Chickenfoot front man Sammy Hagar. At others, he sounds like Soundgarden/former Audioslave front man Chris Cornell. The similarity in the singers’ voices is eerie.
The band’s new self-titled album is a solid mix of sounds, opening with a trio of heavier, energy-laden songs in: ‘Elevate’, ‘Desire’ and ‘We Are One.’ From there, things slow down a little bit in ‘I’m No Angel’ ‘The Other Side’ and ‘You Saved Me.’ What’s interesting here is that while this trio of songs is a little more subdued, there is still a certain controlled energy throughout all three. The guitar solos in ‘We Are One’ along with Portnoy’s expert drumming in this song is just one of so many of the album’s highlights. ‘You Saved Me’ is impressive not just because of its musical content, but also for its uplifting lyrical content. Kotzen sings, “You saved me in my darkest hour/You stood by me and stayed/You gave me all my strength and power/And when sunshine turned to grey/In my darkest hour/You stood by me and stayed/You stood with me/My guiding angel.” This could be interpreted in a religious sense. It could just as easily be considered more in the sense of a relationship. Regardless of which angle one takes here, the ballad with its moving music and equally uplifting lyrics is sure to impress any listener.
‘You Saved Me’ is a fitting midpoint for The Winery Dogs’ debut record. That is because it is after this point that things pick back up beginning with what is one of the best of the best from this record in ‘Not Hopeless.’ This song is a standout thanks to the contradiction of the heavier, slower sludge rock style verses to the more standard rock style choruses. Kotzen shows throughout both sections (and his solos) that he can easily hold his own alongside fellow guitar great Zakk Wylde here. And if this isn’t enough to get listeners excited, the album’s next track, ‘One More Time’ definitely will. Bass virtuoso Billy Sheehan gets his chance to shine in this up-tempo prog rock piece alongside Portnoy. Sheehan gets his own solo alongside Portnoy in the song’s bridge. Kotzen eventually joins in to add in his own spice, too. By the time the song ends, it will have left listeners in awe of the trio’s talent once more. Forget the lyrics. This song is entirely about the talent of these three musicians. And it definitely doesn’t disappoint.
After the high energy of ‘One More Time’ and ‘Not Hopeless’, the band slows things down only momentarily in ‘Damaged’ and ‘Six Feet Deeper.’ This gives listeners just enough time to catch their collective breath before diving back in the deep end again on the album’s final trio of songs. ‘Time Machine’, ‘The Dying’, and ‘Regret’ finish off the album. And they do so in expert form. The energy in these three songs is just enough to keep listeners engaged right to the final notes without skipping even one song. Suffice it to say that listeners that are familiar with the musicianship of Sheehan, Portnoy and Kotzen will be just as impressed with this record as anything else that the trio has recorded throughout its career. For those that are new to the trio’s talents, these final three songs are certain to seal the deal and make new fans of three of the most talented individuals in the music industry today.
Winery Dogs’ debut record is slated to be released Tuesday, July 23rd via Loud & Proud Records. Fans can pre-order it now via the Loud & Proud Records website at http://loudandproudrecords.com/releases/winery-dogs/. In the meantime, fans can check out the band’s new album live on its tour. It will be touring through Japan and South America during the month of July before coming back to the United States on August 3rd. Fans can get a full list of the band’s tour dates online at http://www.facebook.com/TheWineryDogs. Fans can also “Like” the Winery Dogs’ Facebook page for all of the latest news and updates from the band.
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