Music Review: The Winery Dogs

The Winery Dogs
The Winery Dogs
Audio CD | MP3
Loud & Proud Records
Release Date: July 23, 2013

In this era of Katy Perry pop music and gritty alternative metal there isn’t as clear a place for bands that play straight ahead hard rock and metal. This is the new alternative in many ways as it was when the genre was first born of punk music in the ’70s. Many of the best musicians from the ’80s and early ’90s still have a lot of creative energy but there just isn’t the call for the bands that they were once a part of; or these musicians are older and more experimental.

What’s more and more popular are the super bands, new groups made up of strong musicians from a variety of bands from that era. An example, and possibly the most successful super band currently playing music today, is Chickenfoot, which features Sammy Hagar (Van Halen) on vocals Joe Satriani on guitar, Michael Anthony (Van Halen) on bass, and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers). Another example of one of these super bands touring and releasing music is Black Country Communion. The Winery Dogs features Richie Kotzen (Poison), Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big), and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theatre) on drums. While Kotzen was a member of Mr. Big for a time in the ’80s he was just as well known as a solo artist and guitar virtuoso.

The guys have come together on their self-titled debut album, The Winery Dogs, to craft music that’s not as reminiscent of their previous musical endeavors but that does put a modern twist on the music that came from their peers and the music that came after their bands faded. The music on this album is most definitely album oriented in the best possible way. AOR (album oriented rock) in the traditional sense was a radio term that referred to rock music oriented to an older audience. I always thought of bands that fell into this category as bands that were focused on crafting an album as an overall experience rather than a few great singles and a bunch of B sides. The Winery Dogs is just such an album. If the single is your cup of tea then you’ll happily drink up this entire album.

These big egos don’t clash here. There’s a level of refreshing maturity in the sound and writing and every member of the band has a time to shine and they all meld well together. The hard rock tunes are highly melodic and familiar while also offering sprinkles of something different. “Elevate” for example rhythmically and lyrically feels like a song from Sammy Hagar’s Van Halen. But just when you try to predict or pigeon hole the band a handful of songs vocally feel like Chris Cornell with “Damaged” and “You Saved Me” nodding at Soundgarden tunes with a bit more attention to guitar work (Sorry Soundgarden fans, no insult meant; I like them too).

These guys are older, smarter, more humble and true craftsman. There’s really not a bad song on this album for fans of hard rock and really strong musicians. It’s great to have a super band come out so strong in a debut release. Even Chickenfoot’s second album was much improved over their debut which felt a bit rushed. Black Country Communion also found better footing in follow up music. The Winery Dogs comes out of the gate strong with each of the musicians fitting perfectly into this modern hard rock puzzle.

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