Tuesday, July 30, 2013

CD Review: The Winery Dogs

Last week, in my excitement of The Winery Dogs being unleashed (pun intended), I did something I don't do very often anymore...I bought a CD. I mostly download or stream music. Don't get me wrong. If I really like a CD or band, I'll usually end up buying it. It's just that I've usually heard the CD a bunch of times first. This time, although I'd only heard a few bits and pieces, I went for it and bought it. Upon the first listen, I knew I'd made a great choice!

First of all, who are The Winery Dogs? I hesitate to call them a supergroup because while all three musicians are amazing and have played with multiple bands, I’m not sure they’re household names for those who don’t watch That Metal Show and/or listen to Eddie Trunk. However, hard rock fans definitely know who they are. Ritchie Kotzen (formerly of Poison, Mr. Big and multiple solo CD’s) is the singer/guitarist. Billy Sheehan (formerly of Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) holds down the bass. Mike Portnoy (formerly of Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold, Adrenaline Mob and a ton of other bands and projects) pounds the drums.

Originally, Portnoy and Sheehan began working with John Sykes (formerly of Whitesnake) on a project that didn’t work out. Off of a suggestion by Eddie Trunk, Kotzen was brought in to complete the trio. The result is one of the strongest hard rock CD’s of the year, if not THE strongest. Their music mixes in rock, blues, jazz and a little funk. If you’re familiar with Ritchie Kotzen’s music (and if you’re not, you should check out his solo work as well), he’s got a broad range of styles for both his playing and singing. The closest thing I can compare the Winery Dogs to is his solo material...just kicked up a few notches with the addition of Sheehan and Portnoy. Black Country Communion might be another close match to their style.

They all get their moments to shine on this CD and it all blends together like they’ve been playing together for years. They managed to take their styles to create one cohesive sound instead of three strong musical personalities that play all over each other. The reviews for the CD have been outstanding, and deservedly so. All of the songs are strong. They kick off the CD with “Elevate” which quickly launches you into a heavy onslaught of musicianship that pushes the boundaries while staying in control at the same time. Other highlights include “You Saved Me”, “One More Time” and “Regret”, but like I said, all the songs are strong. There’s no filler here.

With just the three of them, they have no problem filling in the space in all the songs. I’m excited to see them in concert to see how they perform live. From the quick snippets I’ve seen (check out “Elevate” below), they sound incredible live. There haven’t been any Cleveland dates announced yet, but when they do, I guarantee I’ll be one of the first to order tickets.

I’m hoping this won’t be a one and done type band because they’re just too good. I’m excited to see what they’re second CD may hold after spending time on the road and really being able to gel as a band. If you like bluesy, riff based hard rock, you’ll love this band.  Do yourself a favor and check them out. If you do, I’m curious to know what you think.

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