Hard Rock Daddy presents Music Discovery Monday – 10/5/15.
Each week, the HRD team shares songs that fly below radio’s radar, ranging from lesser-known artists to deeper cuts from both up-and-coming and established artists.
In addition to exposing the Hard Rock Daddy audience to new music that isn’t getting the attention that it deserves from radio, Music Discovery Monday also features a segment called “Hard Rock Music Time Machine,” which showcases older songs (from the ’70s to today) that hard rock music fans may have missed at the time of release.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlists beneath each section, all songs featured on Music Discovery Monday can be listened to by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles.
This week, Music Discovery Monday features an exclusive interview with legendary drummer Mike Portnoy, who discusses the latest single from The Winery Dogs and the deeply personal songs that he wrote for his parents during the Dream Theater years.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
THE WINERY DOGS – “Oblivion”
The lead track from Hot Streak – the sophomore release from The Winery Dogs – dials up the intensity and energy from the first note, setting the tone for a musical journey that lasts for 13 songs, and yet somehow still leaves you wanting more (see Hard Rock Daddy album review). Music Discovery Monday is about introducing readers to artists with a song, but in some ways, it’s almost an injustice to make this particular introduction in such a manner. That being said, “Oblivion” is an excellent representation of the sound that The Winery Dogs are cultivating.
When the band first appeared on the scene with their eponymous debut album, they were justifiably categorized as a supergroup (which is something of a double-edged sword nowadays). Featuring legends Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan and the equally-talented (but lesser-known) Richie Kotzen, the supergroup categorization is understandable. However, with their second full-length album released on the same cycle as most acts today, the time has come to look at The Winery Dogs as developing artists (albeit with a big head start).
Any thoughts that The Winery Dogs are merely another side project, like the ones that are prevalent in hard rock today, are not justified. If you haven’t discovered them yet, listen to “Oblivion” as an introduction to a band with tremendous staying power, and then dig deeper into everything that they have to offer.
In a Hard Rock Daddy exclusive, drummer Mike Portnoy discussed the evolution of “Oblivion”…
“We were rehearsing at my house to go back on the road in the Spring of 2014. We were pretty much up and rehearsed in one day, so we had some time on our hands, and figured, ‘what the fuck, let’s write a new song.’ We started jamming on some riffs, which is how all Winery Dogs songs are written. Thirty minutes later, we had the music written for ‘Oblivion.’ We decided to include it on the tour that we were about to embark on, so we were pretty much playing it every night on the road.
Even though the music was finished, Richie didn’t really have concrete lyrics yet, so he was just kind of scatting his way through the lyrics on tour. Not until we actually recorded it for the album a few months ago did he actually lock down some real words.
It was something that really fit into the live set because it’s a high-energy song. People who have been seeing us on the road all throughout last year have already been hearing it, and it seemed to be a crowd favorite.”
***Make sure to check out the Hard Rock Music Time Machine segment to read the personal stories that Portnoy shared about the songs that he wrote with Dream Theater for each of his departed parents.***
THE NEAL MORSE BAND – “The Grand Experiment”
The title of the song also describes the manner in which the song (and album of the same name) was written. Rather than having all of the material prepared before entering the studio, all of the songs were created with the entire band together. In addition to Neal Morse, the band features Mike Portnoy (drums), Randy George (bass), Eric Gillette (guitars) and Bill Hubauer (keyboards). Says Morse, “I wanted to see what it would be like to create freely in the room with no preconceived notions. It was quite a risk!” The risk clearly paid off. Even though this is a prog album and will undoubtedly appeal to prog audiences, “The Grand Experiment” will also appeal to a wider audience as well. Classic rock fans who like Kansas, Styx and Yes should definitely check this one out.
JON LOVELESS – HRD Music Scout
LESLIE WEST – “Left By The Roadside To Die”
The first track released from the forthcoming album by this guitar legend suggests that he’s more than ready to follow up on his critically acclaimed recent pair of solo projects. More blues than rock at times, it’s not only heavy enough to appeal, but it’s also a genuine pleasure to hear an artist than has been around so long, after having been through so much with health problems, sound as good (or even better than) ever. A sincere treat, especially if you appreciate his history.
NATHANIEL RATELIFF & THE NIGHT SWEATS – “S.O.B.”
For as much of a rock n’ roll purist and stickler for format rules as I can be, every now and then, a song just…works. Such is the case with the latest from a blues-folk artist previously better known for his gritty songwriting. This raucous hand-clapper isn’t a rock song by definition, but in spirit, it certainly feels like one, which likely explains why it’s getting a fair amount of attention lately.
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
A SOUND OF THUNDER – “Tower Of Souls”
The female-fronted metal band A Sound Of Thunder, out of Washington D.C., has been putting out an album a year since 2011. Their fifth album, Tales From The Deadside, was funded by a Kickstarter campaign that tripled its initial goals because of the enthusiasm of their fans. It’s a concept album based on the comic book series Shadowman, which is about a dark superhero who uses his voodoo powers to watch over the city of New Orleans. Whether that angle appeals to you or not, there is no denying the power of the music and the Halford-like vocals of Nina Osegueda.
MICHAEL MONROE – “Old King’s Road”
Hanoi Rocks brought us glam punk rock from Finland in the eighties. After reviving that band from 2001-2009 (does that decade have a name? the aughts? the 00’s?), frontman and multi-instrumentalist Michael Monroe branched out on his own, building on that trademark style. This single comes from the prolific musician’s 30th album, Blackout States, released last month.
CHRIS HERZEGOVITCH – HRD Music Scout
WITHIN SILENCE – “Silent Desire”
Within Silence is a Christian Metal band from Slovakia that has been around since 2008 under their former name, Rightdoor. This is good, powerful, melodic metal that’s inspirational without over-the-top, evangelical lyrics. From this year’s release, Gallery of Life, the best attributes of “Silent Desire” are the rhythm line and vocals.
THE BLACKFIRES – “Can’t Get Over You”
Good ol’ fashioned rock-n-roll is still alive and well with The Blackfires, who fashion themselves as a potent mix of Led Zeppelin, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith and Deep Purple. Andrey “Cheggi” Chegodaev is a great frontman with a terrific voice and antics to match. Standout guitar work from Anthony Mullin that is both wailing and bluesy.
To be considered for Music Discovery Monday, please e-mail a link to the song being submitted on YouTube and an artist bio to – submissions@MusicDiscoveryMonday.com
HARD ROCK MUSIC TIME MACHINE
Anyone who has lost one or both of their parents can appreciate the feelings that surface around birthdays and the anniversary of their passing. This week is always a difficult one for me personally as I deal with both.
Mike Portnoy lost each of his parents in very different ways. The two Dream Theater songs below capture the feelings of loss. In an exclusive Hard Rock Daddy interview, Mike discussed the songs that he wrote for his parents (see each song write-up below)…
DREAM THEATER – “A Change Of Seasons” (1995)
On June 30, 2015, Mike Portnoy shared an inspirational story about Pat Lynch, a teacher who taught him a life-altering lesson in school. The story was shared after he learned of Lynch’s passing. If not for the lesson that he learned from Lynch, he may never have gotten to say a proper goodbye to his mother. The lesson and the tragic passing of his mother inspired “A Change Of Seasons.” For those who have suffered the loss of a parent, it will be easy to empathize with the emotions of the story. However, you don’t need to have suffered a loss to be reminded of how important it is to seize the day or to understand the significance of taking the time to say proper goodbyes in everyday life. Most of us are guilty of letting life happen to some degree, but we should realize that tomorrow is promised to no one. At any given moment, we can experience a life-altering change of seasons…
“My mom died in a tragic plane crash. It was completely sudden and unexpected. As I wrote about in the post about my teacher (Pat Lynch), I had an experience with ‘carpe diem’ that really gave me a gift that I’ll never ever be able to forget. I had that last goodbye with my mom, and I wrote about it in ‘A Change Of Seasons.’
The song itself is almost 25 years old. To me, it’s a big piece of Dream Theater’s history, and it’s always a fan favorite. I’m a little detached from Dream Theater history at this point because I’ve gone on to do so many things post-Dream Theater, but the lyrics themselves, particularly the whole ‘carpe diem’ section, is a timeless lesson that I’ll have with me for the rest of my life. Hopefully, other people can learn from it as well, and maybe it will help them in their lives and give them an experience like I had.” – Mike Portnoy
DREAM THEATER (MIKE PORTNOY VOCAL DEMO) – “The Best Of Times” (2009)
Mike Portnoy is known for his drumming prowess and backing vocals. On this version of “The Best Of Times” – a song written about the relationship that he had with his father – Portnoy handles the lead vocals as well. This song is about more than impressive musicianship, which is delivered in spades. The intensity of the drumming captures the feeling of a heart beating so fast that you think that it will burst from your chest after your parent takes their final breath. The lyrics are about more than paying tribute to a departed parent; they tell the story of the impact of a lifetime of memories. The music captures the pain of loss, reaches into your heart and touches your soul. “The Best Of Times” is an epic musical journey of one man’s life with his father; a nostalgic walk down memory lane and the impact of time spent together that lasts long after death. It is equal parts beauty and pain, especially for anyone who has suffered the loss of one or both parents.
“Many, many years after ‘A Change Of Seasons,’ I had a similar, and just as heartfelt, emotional experience losing my dad under very different circumstances. In his case, he was battling cancer for six months, so unlike my mom (which was a sudden loss), with my dad, it was something that was prolonged and expected so we had time to prepare for it. However, it was just as emotional, and in his case, I wrote the song ‘The Best Of Times’ as a gift for him. It was something that I was able to share with him before he passed away. I played him the demo of the song with me singing at his bedside while we held hands and cried. A few days later, we played it at his funeral. The song was more of a ‘thank you,’ and something to cherish. He and I had an incredibly emotional experience before he passed away.” – Mike Portnoy
KROKUS – “Hoodoo Woman” (2010)
Off of the sixteenth studio album from Switzerland’s greatest rock band, “Hoodoo Woman” is a song with a touch of blues noticeable from the outset. The album was more successful in Europe than in North America, so some may have missed out on the fact that, some forty years after they began, these staples of the ‘80s are still capable of delivering solid rock.
TOAD – “Stay” (1971)
The first Swiss rock band to make major inroads in their homeland, they ultimately went in a more blues-oriented direction and maintained at least some presence for the next two decades before separating in the mid-‘90s. The most prominent former member is guitarist/vocalist Vic Vergeat, who continues to tour primarily in Europe today.
CRIMSON GLORY – “Lost Reflection” (1986)
“Lost Reflection” tells the twisted tale of a creature, locked away and sinking into madness, as he comes to terms with what he is. The plaintive vocals, lightly accompanied by strings and an acoustic guitar, escalate into an explosion of horror as the story progresses. The band’s incredibly talented lead singer, Midnight, died tragically in 2009, and was replaced from 2010 – 2013 by Todd La Torre. When it was later announced that La Torre would be the new lead singer for Queensryche, simply knowing that he had been called upon to fill the shoes of Midnight spoke volumes about his range and ability. This is a brilliant composition performed by one of metal’s great, but lesser known, vocalists.
MAGNUM – “Les Morts Dansant” (1985)
British melodic rockers Magnum told the tale of a man facing a firing squad in this moving piece, which translates to “Night of the Dancing Dead.” From their 1985 album, On A Storyteller’s Night, the piece was covered just two years later by Patty Smyth (Scandal) on her first solo album, though she dropped the French title and renamed it “Call To Heaven.”
WINTERBORN – “New Dawn” (2006)
Finland is home to the heavy metal band Winterborn. “New Dawn” is from their first full-length album, Cold Reality, back in 2006. Teemu Koskela’s vocals are reminiscent of W.A.S.P.’s Blackie Lawless. Pasi Vapola & Antti Hokkala do a great job on guitars.
SEVENTH WONDER – “Alley Cat” (2010)
A funky groove is the undertone for this track by Seventh Wonder, a prog metal group from Sweden that has been around since 2000. Lots of talent here, featuring Tommy Karevik’s vocals (also of Kamelot), and the terrific bass work of Andreas Blomqvist. “Alley Cat” is off their last full-length studio album, The Great Escape, from 2010.