Winery Dogs: Hot Streak review

When word started to spread in 2012 that industry heavyweights Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan and Richie Kotzen were forming a band, aspirations and expectations surrounding the new project were very high, which the band more than lived up to with their stunning self-titled debut in 2013. Fast forward two years and countless shows later and the band are set to drop their second album Hot Streak for Loud & Proud Records and much like its predecessor, it too will blow any preconceived notions of how good it could be right out of the water. Whereas the debut was essentially a Classic Rock record, Hot Streak openly embraces more modern elements as well and covers a lot of musical ground in its hour plus running time. It is music for musicians with melodic crossover appeal. Now as you can well imagine the musicianship on Hot Streak is off the charts and Billy Sheehan’s unmistakable fretboard acrobatics on cuts like “Empire” and “War Machine” leave no doubt as to why he is such a legend and held in such high regard by fans and fellow musicians alike. You can’t help but hear the similarities to Sheehan & Kotzen’s time with Mr. Big on songs like lead single “Oblivion” or “Devil You Know,” while “Captain Love” falls somewhere between the Hard Rock swagger of Ac/Dc and the bluesy roots of early Whitesnake. From songs like title track “Hot Streak,” which mixes the more progressive elements of Rush & King’s X with 70’s Parliament Funkadelic to “How Long,” that really showcases Kotzen’s soulful voice and technical dexterity, there is something for everyone to sink their teeth into on Hot Streak. Speaking of technical abilities, after hearing some of the solos on the album, you’ll be left wondering why Richie Kotzen’s name is mentioned more in conversations about music best guitar players and it goes without saying that Mike Portnoy is a drumming chameleon that can play any style needed at a moment’s notice to accompany any type of music with metronome like precision. There are even subtle hints of 80’s MTV generation pop in “Spiral,” as well as nods to Synchronicity era Police on “Ghost Town,” while “Think It Over” would have been in regular rotation on 70’s FM radio. To prove there’s nothing they can’t do and do well, the Spanish flavored acoustics of “Fire” shows that no style is off limits and “The Lamb” closes the album by taking you to church, kind of like what Kansas was doing at the height of their popularity. Here’s the bottom line. If you love music for music’s sake, then Hot Streak is undoubtedly the album you’ve been waiting for. Rating: 8.5 out of 10 -Eric Hunker