Published on September 28th, 2017 | by Justin G.
Riverdogs: California (Frontiers)
It’s good to see that the reunion of the (mostly) original Riverdogs lineup a few years back wasn’t a fluke. The band, which features guitarist Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard, ex-Dio, ex-Whitesnake) alongside vocalist/guitarist Rob Lamothe, bassist Nick Brophy and drummer Marc Danzeisen, is back with a follow-up to their 2011 comeback World Gone Mad.
The new album is called California, and it’s an interesting mix of the old and new Riverdogs sounds. While their 1990 debut sounded like the second coming of Bad Company, World Gone Mad was a much mellower affair. California splits the difference, balancing bluesy rock n’ roll with a laid back AOR approach. Between Campbell’s soulful, bluesy guitar sound and Lamothe’s smooth vocal delivery, this is a very easy album to get into. Perhaps too easy. Aside from a couple tracks (“You’re Too Rock n’ Roll,” “Searching For a Signal”), there’s not much punch to California. It’s mostly songs like “American Dream” and “Welcome to the New Disaster,” that despite being really enjoyable are almost relaxing to the point of becoming background music. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you’re looking for a “kick back on the patio at night with a glass of wine” kind of album, but a bit more electricity might have given this album more staying power.
It may be a bit too mellow at times, but as a whole California is a very enjoyable album with a lot of heart and soul. Sometimes you need a bit more than just catchy hooks and sing-along choruses (not that those are bad things), and that’s where the more “adult AOR” Riverdogs come in. Fans of Bad Company and Dare in particular ought to really enjoy this one.
Summary: It needs a bit more punch, but this is still a really enjoyable album.