The Winery Dogs’ Debut A Super Record From A True Supergroup

Courtesy:  Loud & Proud Records

Courtesy: Loud & Proud Records

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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Steel Panther’s New Live BD A “Solid” Release For Fans

Courtesy:  DC3/Universal Republic/3 dimensions/AGPS Management

Courtesy: DC3/Universal Republic/3 dimensions/AGPS Management

Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers, once said that death and taxes were life’s two constants.  If he were alive today, Franklin would change his tune and say that there are in fact three more constants in the twenty-first century.  Those constants are sex, drugs, and rock & roll.  Many bands have tried to live those constants.  Many have succeeded.  But few have truly lived those constants like the glam rockers of Steel Panther.  This California based band actually started in 2009.  Since that time, its members—Lexxi Foxx, Michael Starr, Satchel, and Stix Zadinia—have become the poster boys for everything that was at one point all that rockers lived for.  The band has already released two albums under its current moniker.  And now thanks to Universal Republic Records, audiences get a new chance to experience all the testosterone fueled, alcohol infused bombacity that is Steel Panther live in its new live release, British Invasion.

British Invasion was recorded live at the famed Brixton Academy during its most recent live tour in support of its most recent album, Balls Out.  Brixton Academy has hosted some of rocks biggest names including both Machine Head and Sepultura.  Now Steel Panther can add its name to the list of huge names that have performed there.  Fans of the aforementioned bands got quite the show with each one.  And Steel Panther’s fans get a show that they’ll enjoy in this new release, too.  Not only do fans get a full set from its performance at Brixton, but there’s also the bonus of five extra songs recorded live at the band’s performance at the Download 2012 Festival.  The audio and video mix on both of the main and bonus performance are quite clear.  And whether one has seen SP live before or not, audiences get a show that has all the over the top antics and music that audiences have come to expect from this band.  To sweeten the deal, the band and its label, Universal Republic Records, have included a booklet complete with lyrics to every song performed in the main set.

The booklet included with the Blu-ray is just part of what viewers will appreciate from this performance.  Audiences get out of this performance, a band that actually interacts with the audience in attendance.  And it’s not just your standard back and forth banter, either.  The entire band gets in on the act.  It’s little things like that that make a performance memorable.  Though of course, the band’s interaction with its audience is just half of what will make the band’s fans enjoy this recording.  There’s also enough T & A to make any college frat boy happy for quite some time.  The band even brings in some “adult entertainers” to help with its show in more than one song.  Add in the impressive audio and visual editing and mixing and fans get in this recorded performance a show that fans of Steel Panther will be watching time and again.  The band’s new DVD and Blu-ray are both available online and in stores now.  Regardless of whether or not fans manage to pick it up, they’ll still have the chance to see the band live as it’s currently touring in support of the new live release now.  Fans can get all the latest tour dates and news from the band now online at http://www.steelpantherrocks.com, http://www.facebook.com/steelpantherkicksass, http://twitter.com/#!/Steel_Panther, and http://www.myspace.com/steelpantherkicksass.

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Giant X’s Debut LP Is Giant Fun

Courtesy:  Steamhammer/SPV

Courtesy: Steamhammer/SPV

Giant X, the brainchild of Running Wild band members Rolf Kasparek and Peter J. Jordan brings back all the flare and bombacity of rock’s golden era.  Right from the first moments of the album’s opener, ‘On A Blind Flight’, audiences are instantly transported back to the days of big rock and in many cases, big hair.  ‘Blind Flight’ is a solid mix of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden with its solid driving guitars and soaring vocals.  The duo hardly let up from there as it launches into what is sure to be a fan favorite in ‘Don’t Quit Till Tomorrow.’  At this point, there are no plans for Giant X to tour.  But should the band ever manage to h it the road, there’s no doubt that this song would become an instant arena anthem for the band.  The song opens with the simplest of chants that conjures the image of a massive crowd singing along, fists pumping in the air.  Lyrically, this is an equally empowering song.  Kasparek sings near the song’s end, “When the times are getting crazy…don’t quit till tomorrow.  Raise your hands for rock and roll.”  Simply put, what is being said here is don’t let the tough times get you down.  Don’t give up.  Keep pushing through.  The positive message mixed with a solid rocking musical baking makes this one of the album’s best songs, hands down.  Things don’t let off here though.

As the last tones of ‘Don’t Quit Till Tomorrow’ fade away, listeners are able to catch their breath just enough to get ready for even more solid rock in the form of ‘Badland Blues.’  This blues based southern rock style piece is a rock song, plain and simple.  It’s just a great near five minute musical experience.  The only time that the record slows down any is on the semi-ballad, ‘Nameless Heroes.’  This one seems to be a tribute to the men and women in uniform the world over, as Kasparek and Jordan sing, “This goes out to all the nameless heroes/This goes out to all the ones that paid.”  The band leaves little doubt as to whom they are singing for here.  And it’s a fitting tribute to those individuals, too.  It’s one more that’s bound to be a fan favorite regardless of whether or not Giant X tours in support of this record.

‘Don’t Quit Till Tomorrow’ and ‘Nameless Heroes’ are both bound to be fan favorites from Giant X’s debut.  There is at least one more (if not more) that will be another fan favorite.  That song is the album’s very next track, ‘Go 4 It.’ It makes for a perfect transition from ‘Nameless Heroes.’  The song instantly kick starts its listeners after the more emotional ‘Nameless Heroes.’  The first thing that listeners hear from this song is a rather fast guitar intro that leads into Kasparek singing, “You feel the gasoline in your blood…You reek of gas/And you’re kickin’ ass/You are hell on wheels.”  There’s a certain something about this song that oozes the likes of Poison as an influence.  It’s just one more of so many tracks that any fan of big hair and big guitars will appreciate on this upcoming new album.  And for those wondering, Giant X’s debut album, I is due to be available in stores and online in the U.S. on January 22nd.  To find out if the band will be touring in support of its debut, I, fans need just go online to http://www.running-wild.net, and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Giant-X/176387661550

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