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| 3 February 2023 | Reply

Label: Three Dog Music

Release Date: February 3, 2023

Rating: 98%

Reviewer: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

The Winery Dogs is one of the best “all-star” collaborations out there today, in my opinion.  There is something about these three guys that just settles perfectly in my rock and roll world.  The trios latest and third release aptly titled III is an extension of the previous discs and show how well they gel as a unit.  Disc opener “Xanadu” takes a sonic approach to the meaning of the word as it seems ethereal and exciting from the first furious note and through the remainder of the track.  The verses are highlighted by a swirl of Richie Kotzen’s amazing vocals, Billy Sheehan’s thumping basslines, and some killer drumming and fills from Mike Portnoy.  The whole track personifies the vibe of the disc overall and is the perfect introduction to the band.  “Mad World” opens with a cool riff and some smoldering bottom end from the rhythm section of Portnoy and Sheehan.  The track chugs along and leans into a bluesy rock vibe more than an anticipated prog-tinted sound, but don’t miss the breakdowns that allow the latter to seep in.  “Rise” is a fun track that perfectly marries the bass, drums, and guitars.  While I love Richie’s vocals in general, there is something about this track that stands out and would make a great instrumental as well.  Thanks to the bass and drums adding depth, the song unfolds like a cool jam session that grew into a song with lyrics.  Be sure to hang out for Billy’s phenomenal bass in the bridge.  “The Vengeance” opens kicks in with percussion from Portney, guitar strumming from Kotzen, and a bassline that draws you in.  The overall swirl of music hits a peak as the chorus hits and the sounds come together creating a sweet sound that keeps things a bit on the lighter side, if these guys had a lighter side.  “Gaslight” is a melting pot of the different facets of this album, from Sheehan’s fret runs on his bass to thunderous drumming from Portnoy to the vocal and guitar tandem Kotzen provides and sprinkles across the top of the track.  To see and hear this song played live would be worth the price of admission.

“Breakthrough” is all Kotzen from the rip with his vocals and unique guitar sound leading the way.  Before long Billy jumps in with his bass and both feet, delivering a heavy bottom end that keeps the track locked down and gives the vocals room to soar without risk of running askew.  Be sure to listen for all the guitar nuances tossed across the verses and bridges.  “Stars” is another song that benefits from Kotzen’s vocals and guitars, but gets added texture and push from Portnoy’s drumming.  The timekeeping is tight and provides a perfect musical platform on which to build the track out with bass and guitars.  When the chorus hits, I am reminded how emotive Richie’s vocals can be.  “Pharaoh” is another song that benefits from a jam feel that gets a set of lyrics.  The bottom end is killer on this track.  There is something mesmerizing about Billy’s basslines in the bottom end on the song that offset the guitar noodling from Richie, especially on the bridge.  Mike’s drumming finesse cannot be ignored.  Not many guys can do what he does and blend into the mix when needed and stand out at other times.  “Lorelei” is a smoldering track that breaks everything down from the intro notes, into the verse with a simple rhythm and soft vocals and guitar work overtop.  The ‘ballad’ is a welcome surprise as it totally caught me off guard as so much of the disc comes straight at you.  As I listen through, I imagine these guys sitting in a dark room enjoying the ambiance and mood of the moment as they each bring their instrument to life in unison.  Disc closer “The Red Wine” takes us out as strongly as the opener welcomed us.  Once again Sheehan and Portnoy demonstrate how damn good they are when transitioning from breakdown to verse and chorus to bridge.  The fills and runs are awesome and build the track up for Kotzen to do what he does… play with precision and sing his ass off.  If this one doesn’t prompt you to kicks the disc off again from the top, I am not sure what will.  I cannot wait to check these guys out on their coming tour and witness these songs live.

Tracklisting: Xanadu – Mad World – Breakthrough – Rise – Stars – The Vengeance – Pharaoh – Gaslight – Lorelei – The Red Wine







Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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