Seriously…at this point do any of THE WINERY DOGS need an introduction? In 2013 Richie Kotzen, Billy Sheehan, and Mike Portnoy put out an album the likes of which we may never see again. Now they’re back with their second effort Hot Streak, out now via Loud and Proud Records. Believe me when I tell you that the Sophomore Slump is NOT the case here. The band picks right up where they left off. However they veer into some new territory that not only keeps things fresh, but also will make some jaws drop.
That much is clear with opener and first single “Oblivion”. The whole band comes out swingin’ and says, “First time around was no fluke, people!” Richie is in terrific vocal form as he, Billy, and Mike make their instruments melt like a Salvadore Dali painting. “Captain Love” and “Hot Streak” further showcase the insane talent in this band and I can only hope one or both are featured in the live set this Thursday when I see them at the Keswick Theater in PA. “How Long” has the guys going off and having fun without getting into blatant show-off territory. Although…could anyone really blame them if they did show off? Not really.
The beginning of “Empire” will have you thinking we’re in a cool 70’s action film, and as the track continues you can imagine yourself leaping through windows and breaking chairs over someone’s head all Shaft-like. This was definitely a standout from the very first listen. As far as smoky ballads go “Fire” should be near the top of that list. Kotzen sings beautifully, and the band paints a stunning picture behind him. Now we come to my favorite, “Ghost Town”. One listen and you’ll get why it is. Such an incredible song that when I get to it I have to listen four times before I move on.
The guys are firing on all cylinders for “The Bridge”, “War Machine”, and “Devil You Know”, just rockin’ out and having fun, and it shows. “Spiral” is very, very interesting because its anthemic quality makes you want to drive down the highway doing 110 mph. There are some great vintage keyboard sounds on “Think It Over” and Richie sings with so much soul it’s almost criminal. Closer “The Lamb” is an essay in musicianship, and all three guys take care of business for six minutes and change. When all is said and done THE WINERY DOGS have put together a record that is every bit as good as their debut, and I for one can’t wait to hear some of these songs live in a few days. Hot Streak is available now…I suggest you go and get it!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM