Hot Streak review by The Winery Dogs

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  • Released: Oct 2, 2015
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (22 votes)
The Winery Dogs: Hot Streak

Sound — 8
The Winery Dogs formed as a project/supergroup when Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy were exploring avenues to work together in 2012. They recruited Richie Kotzen for guitar and vocals and formed The Winery Dogs. Their previous releases for this project include a phenomenal self-titled debut album, and a live album recorded in Japan. "Hot Streak" includes thirteen tracks that clock in at sixty-five minutes. The overall sound of the album could be loosely described as classic rock, '80s hair metal, and grunge and grunge metal being mixed together and being played by some seriously skilled musicians.

"Oblivion" is a track the group wrote while touring for their self-titled debut, and it basically sounds like what it is, which is an intense track that borders on being a little too busy. The problem with the track is that while everyone plays superbly, there isn't really an impression of movement in the track - it feels like it doesn't ever quite go anywhere. "Captain Love" dips pretty deeply into the over-the-top '80s hair metal thing, the lyrics even going into the realm of '80s cheese - but the instrumental treatment of the track is so honest and earnest I found myself tapping my foot along with it. "Hot Streak" reminded me, in just the first few dozen opening measures, of some of the more aggressive jazz fusion acts around these days. The band definitely isn't going to be mistaken for a jazz band for very long, but the intro definitely had a strong dash of that flavor in it. "How Long" was built around a Stanly Clarke-influenced bassline that Sheehan used as a warm-up exercise and Portnoy and Kotzen got involved and fleshed it out to a full song. "Empire" is a nice mix of funk and classic rock that exemplifies the vibe that I imagine the band was going for with the album. "Fire" has an almost Spanish vibe, and relies on mostly acoustic instrumentation and sad lyrics. "Ghost Town" comes after "Fire" and kind of pumps you back up after "Fire" took the energy level down. "Ghost Town" is musically aggressive, but lyrically and vocally is a little bit more settled - in the end, it has a unique vibe going on that makes it really stand out. "The Bridge" has a nice swampy hard rock intro, though later in the song the music feels more like it is reaching towards being ascendant for the most part. "War Machine" has a "hard rock meets the blues" thing going on, which works out to be a really interesting track. "Spiral" seems like it is flirting with disco, but the illusion is destroyed when Richie's vocals start up - he just doesn't have a disco kind of voice. The song does embody the feeling of the song's title during a few long moments. "Devil You Know" is where you really see Sheehan and Kotzen stretch their legs - Portnoy, too, but he stretches his legs on most tracks. "Think It Over" has a nice retro R&B vibe going on, and I honestly found myself enjoying this track immensely. The album closes out with "The Lamb," which has a strong gospel sound to it in the intro and a few other brief moments, but it takes the gospel imagery associated with lambs and turns it on its head a little bit.

Lyrics — 8
Richie Kotzen sounds a lot like a more well-balanced version of Chris Cornell on a lot of this album. Richie is definitely one of the stronger vocalist/guitarists that are active these days, and he definitely shows what he can do on "Hot Streak." The lyrics are written, mostly, from a classic rock sensibility. As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from the track "The Lamb": "Look in my window, there's no one home/ The fire's burning, but I'm so cold/ The stormy weather caught me/ The heat of summer is gone/ Been hit by madness, the weight of stone/ Am I on the right side of wrong/ Where do the survivors belong/ I need someone to lead me like a lamb/ Down the path to the water/ Are you gonna feed me from your hand/ I'm the lamb at the slaughter/ Are you gonna bleed me till I'm dry/ Hide my eyes, like a martyr/ I'm gonna let you lead me, here I am/ I'm the lamb, I'm the lamb."

Overall Impression — 8
If I named my favorite drummer then Portnoy would be in the top three. If I named my favorite bass player then Sheehan would be in the top three. Kotzen isn't quite so high on my list, but he's still a seriously talented dude. In the context of The Winery Dogs, each members seems to even rise above their own skill just a little bit to create something greater. The mixing on the album is really kind of phenomenal, with the bass just mixed a tad loud to allow Sheehan's playing to really shine through. My favorite tracks on the album would be "Empire," "The Bridge" and "Think It Over."

14 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Such a great CD, why this band isn't more popular is really a mystery to me. Kotzen is so talented it makes me feel bad about myself, especially after seeing them live a few times. Just top notch.
    Love this album. Got it the day it was released. All three musicians really complement each others' playing while allowing each to showcase their insane technical abilities. Billy Sheehan is a bass god =O
    I feel like their truly horrible name holds them back (at least in terms of popularity), which is unfortunate, this album is crazy.
    Just saw these guys live for the second time last week. Totally worth going if you get the chance!!
    As good as Portnoy and Sheehan are and they ARE me, Richie is the REAL talent in this band. Besides his crazy good signature vocals, his guitar work is simply unbelievably great. He IS the artistry in this band. "Think It Over" may be one of the best songs I've ever heard from just a reach down into your soul and pull out greatness standpoint!!! It also could have been on one of his many solo efforts.
    Oblivion has me hooked right off the bat. I liked their debut, but this is even better than everything on that. I'm going to hit replay on that baby.
    The debut album was great! This, however, is too pretentious! Guys are monsters, but truth is truth!
    Ritchie Kotzen is an amazing singer and guitarist but I couldn't think of a more unappealing rhythm section.
    I love Ritchies vocals and sheehan is crazy, but something about portnoys playing is super unappealing. I feel like he uses the same beats and fills for every album of his career....
    It's called a signature. Like how Kirk Hammett uses a lot of similar licks in his solos. Might be a little unoriginal, but you can tell when their influence shines through when you hear it in other musicians' music.