Riverdogs - California

Riverdogs California cover
Riverdogs
California
Frontiers Music Srl
2017
6.5
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The older I get, I guess the more eclectic I get. Riverdogs is a band in which Vivian Campbell (Whitesnake, Def Leppard etc.) entered after being earshot as a producer for their demo; once he was done with Whitesnake and after the Lou Gramm solo he took part in, but didn’t tour. He’d soon do the short-lived Shadowking album with Gramm as well and then go on to replace Steve Clark in the Leps. The other constant members are Rob Lamoth, who’s had a bit of a solo career and guitar/bassist Nick Brophy, who’s been more successful as a producer rather than a player.
 
Now the thing is that this “project”, because in reality it’s not been a proper band, rather than a lose collective of musicians who release an album every once in a blue moon, when their schedules allow (1990, 2011, 2017) is that while you can still hear it’s the same band, it really doesn’t sound as exciting and as focused as on their debut, having accumulated all the influences from the past or so thirty years, resulting in a rather more laid back sound. Comparatively it sounds like a softer Mr Big, without a huge emphasis on virtuosic instrumental passage, even-though certain guitar licks do stand out, on occasion.
 
“American Dream” is quite up-tempo and loud, somewhat reminiscent and resounding of the band’s heyday, but past that we’re greeted with a quad of softer smoother songs, “The Revolution Starts Tonight”, “Something Inside”, “Golden Glow” and the self-aware “You’re Too Rock and Roll”, which is also a tad bluesier, but of which on “Something Inside” really stands out…despite all of them having memorable guitar parts.
 
Following these Eric Martinesque, exercises, “The Heart is a Mindless Bird” actually feels quite a bit more interesting, even if it’s even bluesier and more introspective, as it feels more honest, even if it dwells in the threshold where a Zeppelin meets Tanita Tikaram melancholy…
 
“Searching for a Signal” is again heavier and riffier, a bit more political too, only for the band to get even more political in “Welcome to the New Disaster”, which really reminded me of a mix between Mr Big and Tesla, especially as Lamoth sustains and drugs on notes a bit like Jeff Kieth does…
 
“Ten Thousand Reasons” keeps on the same path, with quite a brilliant solo towards its end giving it a release…
 
“Catalina” is based around a sultry riff, but it’s too jaded and washed out to really hit hard… it’s charming, but lacks a proper hook. And it’s probably about the eponymous St. Catalina island and not some Latina!
 
Lastly, “I Don’t Know Anything” manages to electrify its bluesiness with the right amount of wailing in the solos and some really heartfelt vocals by Lamoth.
 
Not a bad album overall, with a couple of highlights, but a bit too laid back for my particular tastes. Possibly fine for when I want to wind down, but not for “all times”, which makes it less than ideal…

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