I fell head over heels in love with The Winery Dogs’ self-titled debut album, and the band’s second release Hot Streak proves that they still have that special something that pushes every single one of my listening-pleasure buttons. Hot Streak is a more eclectic and musically varied outing than the band’s debut, with the trio going all out rock, dipping into r&b and soul, and slipping into some ballads, but that special Winery Dogs’ sound is still unmistakable.
First track ‘Oblivion’ reminds me the most of the band’s previous album: it’s a power-packed monster tune, with Mike Portnoy turbo-charged on drums, and Billy Sheehan and Richie Kotzen racing with him, flying sky-high on bass and guitar. Next up is ‘Captain Love’, a ridiculously delicious and catchy rocker with an irresistible swagger, and a chorus that just does me in. Add that seductive growl in both the bass and the vocals, and this might just be my favourite track on the album.
The title track ‘Hot Streak’ is another sizzler, with Kotzen’s vocals sliding over some delicious grooves and rhythms: the way his voice and the music fit together here is a thing of beauty.
Every track on Hot Streak brings out something different from the band, and while the music showcases the band’s superior level of craftsmanship and skill, it’s Kotzen’s vocals that really stand out for me on this record. He packs so much emotion into every phrase and word and melody, and sings with a kind of effortless power that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. For an example of just how good he is, listen to the ballad ‘Fire’, featuring some gorgeous acoustic guitar as well.
‘Spiral’ is another favourite track of mine: a piece of dreamy electronica that is all spacy and tripped out, picking up speed as it spins along. This is a fantastic tune, and a real testament to both the musical chops and unique vibe of this band. On ‘Devil You Know’ the band splashes out with some impressive solos for each member – it’s a fabulous rock tune with a funky backbone; while ‘Think It Over’ brings on a soulful r&b shimmer with Kotzen’s voice smoother than silk on satin. Final track ‘The Lamb’ starts out almost gentle, tugging at you with a strong undercurrent of barely restrained emotion, until the band lets loose and allows the music and the vocals to soar. It’s a perfect ending to a stellar album.
Obviously, this is a band with a high level of technical proficiency, but The Winery Dogs also deliver tunes that have significant emotional power. It’s a joyful experience to hear these three guys play together: they seem to be an excellent fit, reinforcing and strengthening each other, taking their considerable individual strengths and fusing them into something even greater than the sum of those already impressive parts.
The Winery Dogs are currently on tour: check out the dates and details on the band’s website.
- MIKE PORTNOY: drums/vocals
- RICHIE KOTZEN: guitar/vocals
- BILLY SHEEHAN: bass/vocals
- Captain Love
- Hot Streak
- How Long
- Ghost Town
- The Bridge
- War Machine
- Devil You Know
- Think It Over
- The Lamb
Photo credit: Michael Bloom Photography