Riverdogs: ‘California’

To be released on July 7, 2017 (Frontiers Music Srl)

Yet again, Frontiers Records has brought forth a release from a band that started in the late ’80s / early ’90s. If it wasn’t for this fantastic label, many of us fans of the era would be left without great new music. On July 7th, Frontiers will release Riverdogs‘ California. To this day, I still enjoy the Riverdogs‘ self-titled debut album. With all this said, I was really anticipating this release. The songs on that first album are very well structured and the guitar playing of Vivian Campbell may be some of his best work. Campbell really showed his versatility as a guitar player.

As much as I enjoy Campbell’s work with Dio and Def Leppard, let’s be honest, Campbell has to play within the restraints of a certain style. So I am sure, for Campbell, as a musician, who admits to listening to many styles of music, it could be somewhat frustrating. A perfect example of Campbell’s unique style as a writer/player can be heard on “Work It Out” from Def Leppard’s 1995 release Slang. This Campbell written composition may have been the saving grace on that release. Considering grunge ruled the airwaves at the time, this was a big step forward for Leppard. This song possessed even more pop sensibilities than much of the band’s previous work. In some ways, the song I’ve mentioned has a U2 Achtung Baby vibe to it.

But I am not here to talk about Def Leppard. This is a total different entity. It’s the Riverdogs. A four piece band, originally hailing from Los Angeles, California. Hence the title of the new album. This deserves to be left on its own, without comparison to Campbell’s other work.

“American Dream” is the lead off track and starts off immediately with a “Hey, hey, hey” chant as Campbell’s cool licks are filling up the space between the chants. Campbell’s tone is fantastic. The song switches gears going into the verse. I find the vocals of singer Rob Lamothe to be distinctly fantastic. The chorus is extremely catchy. This great song then features a very long, thought out solo by Campbell. There is a section of this solo that I absolutely love, with Campbell playing a drawn out lick that seems to go on for about ten seconds. Every single note of this solo fits perfectly. “American Dream” is a perfect lead off track and perfect choice as the first video to promote the album.

“The Revolution Starts Tonight” is up next. This composition really builds nicely. The rhythm guitar allows the vocals to breathe. I will say, it does have a very ’90s feel to it. The drumming of Marc Danzeisen is heavy, but accommodating to what the song needs. “Something Inside” has a very sleazy, bluesy feel to it. The guitar is heard softly in the verse as Lamothe pounds out a thought provoking lyric. I find that the instrumentation, so far throughout, allows each song to flow perfectly. It shows the true musicianship of all the players involved. Bassist Nick Brophy keeps everything tight and plays perfectly with drummer Danzeisen. Brophy’s very smooth bass lines allow Campbell to shine throughout and give Lamothe’s vocals a smooth feel to sing over top of. A very fine formula for creating fantastic, listener friendly music.

“Golden Glow” starts off slowly, with slowly picked chords, and acoustic guitar is heard underneath, adding a subtle touch. Lamothe’s vocals quickly arrive. The song builds perfectly into a catchy chorus. The guitar line following the chorus has a nice pop feel to it. Yet again Campbell puts forth the perfect guitar solo. Nothing flashy, fitting the feel of the song. “You’re Too Rock N’ Roll” creates a very earthy mood. Knowing the basis of this song from my recent upcoming interview with Brophy, it really makes sense as I listen. As I get to the solo of Campbell, yet again, I am blown away by this man’s articulation.

“The Heart Is A Mindless Bird” has a nice vibe to it. Piano can be heard in the background, with acoustic guitar as well, beneath a subtle electric guitar part. A beautiful piece of music with a metaphoric meaning lyric wise I am sure. The buildup of this song becomes intense. Suddenly, it stops and takes the listener to a very different place by the end of the song. It almost has a Dokken/Dio feel to it. Campbell plays an intense solo that leaves me in awe of his immense talent. Not leaving the listener wanting more, the band continues to rock out on “Searching For A Signal”. This song is intense and in your face. “Welcome To The New Disaster” features yet again fantastic dynamics. The build up is infectious, leaving me in anticipation of what’s to come. The way this band uses instrumentation is remarkable. It’s like an artist/painter, adding more and more color until the masterpiece is finally perfect and complete.

“Ten Thousand Reasons” features a fantastic chorus, with very unorthodox chord changes going back to the verse. It feels like it should go right, but then suddenly turns left. “Catalina” features a great intro riff. The band kicks in and the perfect groove is brought forth. I can’t but help focusing on the sound of Danzeisen’s snare. It’s crisp and precise. Not too much echo and reverb, but enough snap to take notice. The album ends off with “I Don’t Know Anything.” As I listen, and please excuse my comparison, but for some reason this song reminds me of the feel created on Brother Cane’s Wishpool album. Nice ending to a very cool listening experience.

All in all, there is really not much else I can say about this album. I think all that I said as I listened puts this album into perspective. It’s an eclectic, mature recording. The lyrics at times are metaphoric, making me want to know more. Maybe when I was 16 years old, I may not have gotten this album, but as I am to turn 43 later this year, this is really how I like to enjoy my music. It’s diverse with superb musicianship. For those who enjoy this style of music, I highly recommend it.

Track List:
01. American Dream
02. The Revolution Starts Tonight
03. Something Inside
04. Golden Glow
05. You’re Too Rock N’ Roll
06. The Heart Is A Mindless Bird
07. Searching For A Signal
08. Welcome To The New Disaster
09. Ten Thousand Reasons
10. Catalina
11. I Don’t Know Anything

Band Members:
Rob Lamothe – lead vocals, guitar
Vivian Campbell – guitar
Nick Brophy – bass
Marc Danzeisen – drums

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Tyson Briden for Sleaze Roxx, July 2017

Riverdogs “American Dream” video

Riverdogs – “American Dream” (Official Video)

Subscribe To Be Alerted When We Add New Videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers / From the album CALIFORNIA. Get your copy NOW: http://radi.al/California …

Riverdogs “Something Inside” song:

Riverdogs – “Something Inside” (Official Audio)

Subscribe To Be Alerted When We Add New Videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers / From the album CALIFORNIA. Get your copy NOW: http://radi.al/California …

Riverdogs “I Don’t Know Anything” song:

Riverdogs – “I Don’t Know Anything” (Official Audio)

Subscribe To Be Alerted When We Add New Videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers / From the album CALIFORNIA. Get your copy NOW: http://radi.al/California …