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California Breed: California Breed

When the super group known as Black Country Communion split about a year or so, you almost had to know that some part of that faction was going to splinter off together and start something new. As it turns out, vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple/Trapeze/Black Sabbath) and drummer Jason Bonham formed quite the bond in BCC, and decided to continue on with a new band. In comes 23-year old guitarist/singer Andrew Watt based on a recommendation from Julian Lennon, and we now have the new group California Breed. Produced by Dave Cobb, who has worked wonders with Rival Sons, this debut is pretty damn spectacular.

Hughes continues to amaze, as his vocals just keep getting better and better with age. He's in spectacular form here, screaming up a storm on the heavy opener "The Way", and soaring to the heavens on the groove laden hard rocker "Sweet Tea". His bass playing is quite muscular as well, and locked in tight with his buddy Bonham on the crunchy pop of "Chemical Rain", with Watt's textured riffs adding a playful edge. "Midnight Oil" sounds like a heavier Rolling Stones, with meaty riffs, funky grooves, and great female vocals backing up Hughes. Watt has a completely different style than Joe Bonamassa, so don't look for that blues edge which we saw with BCC, instead he mixes psychedelia, grunge, and hard rock elements into his playing evoking Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Ronson, Jerry Cantrell, and maybe even a little Jeff Beck. He also doesn't overplay, his brief solos complementing the songs as to allow the riffs to be the main focus.

Back to Mr. Hughes again, he's at the top of his game on the emotional ballad "All Falls Down" (also featuring a scorching solo from Watt) and sounds all devilish on the groovy "The Grey", with his bass weaving around some powerful drum fills from Bonham. One of the heaviest songs here is the crushing, almost doom laden barnburner "Invisible", complete with nasty riffing from Watt, a pounding Bonham, and powerful wailing courtesy of the 'voice of rock' . Also of note is the '70s styled funky hard rocker "Scars", a Trapeze-meets-Humble Pie styled number with fat, wah-wah bass lines from Hughes, Watt's insistent riffing, and thunderous grooves from the son of the late Led Zeppelin drum legend.

Considering how long this band was shrouded in secrecy, it's great that California Breed has finally been unveiled for all to enjoy. Honestly, it sounds like these three have been playing together for years, as there's great chemistry between them already. While it would have been great to hear Hughes & Watt sharing more vocal duties (Watt is a very good singer-check him out on youtube or alongside Hughes on the tender acoustic tinged track "Breathe"), there's a lot to take in here and a ton to love. Fiery hard rockers, beefy '70s styled heavy rock, funk, classic rock, and's all here and then some. A great debut, and be on the lookout for them at a venue near you, as the band plans on touring quite a bit in the very near future.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1) The Way
2) Sweet Tea
3) Chemical Rain
4) Midnight Oil
5) All Falls Down
6) The Grey
7) Days They Come
8) Spit You Out
9) Strong
10) Invisible
11) Scars
12) Breathe

Added: May 14th 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 5016
Language: english

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California Breed: California Breed
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-05-14 15:27:37
My Score:

You really have to take your hat off to Glenn Hughes (although if it reveals a barnet as questionable as the spikey purple tinged "thing" Mr. Hughes seems determined to sport on his head these days, then I'd suggest you put it back on again...quickly); the ex-Trapeze, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and now of course Black Country Communion bassist and vocalist continuing his life long trend of being able to shrug off circumstances that feel from the outside like they should verge on insurmountable.

It was a match seemingly made in heaven, Hughes's peerless vocals oozing alongside the six-string-smithery of Joe Bonamassa, as Derek Sherinian poured keyboard goodness on the thunder of drummer Jason Bonham. And so it proved for three albums of Heavy, Classic Rock which evoked the best moments of Zeppelin and Bad Company, to reveal possibly the most authentic and current retro Rock act out there. In fact there's little doubt BCC was the best thing Hughes had been involved with since, well, Deep Purple. They do however say that "getting away" is a cure for the Blues, however as Glenn trades in Black Country grit for a California Breed, it would appear that he's actually found more Blues, and more Soul and just a touch of Funk, although with the latter, not to the extent that often splits his own fans. So let's call it "groove" instead.

With Bonamassa taking the decision that BCC and his ever expanding solo work were simply too full on to run in tandem, Hughes and Bonham have opted for a different tack and hooked up with a hitherto unknown whammy smacker and fret fryer in the shape of Andrew Watt. Sherinian is nowhere to be found. For long time followers of Hughes the results will be familiar, yet different, with this self titled album hitting like a full on smash of BCC and Hughes's solo work, whether that be his Rock side (fully in evidence), or his Soul/Fun...., sorry groove tendencies (which are more of a side order here).

Watt, it has to said, is immense, throwing out chunky riffs, classy solos and some full flavoured motifs that live long in the memory, all the while staying within the confines of exactly what the songs require. "Invisible" sits in a slow, steady vibe, Watt merely letting a soulful excursion fly free for a few seconds, "The Grey" proves he can get down, dirty, heavy and groovy. Doubtless you've heard "Sweet Tea" by now, the strutting pout confidently announcing this trio to the world with a thick riff that cavorts and poses with a real sense of purpose; opener "The Way" proving immediately it's no one off. However even these less compromising moments ease off just long enough to offer light, shade and poise, while the beautiful "All Falls Down" reveals that side to full stunning effect.

Producer Kevin Churko insisted on catching as much of what you hear on California Breed, as played, live in the studio and on those terms Hughes' vocal performance is nothing short of stunning, as he rushes from maddening screams, to gentle murmurs and all else in between. Voice Of Rock? You better believe it. Bonham simply does what he does behind the kit, paying homage to his father, while never sounding like a copyist. A balance many have tried and which fittingly only JB seems able to master.

California Breed not only moves Hughes and Bonham on from their BCC past, but it does so in a way which makes the evolution seamless and natural. For this is obviously a different beast altogether, but one you'll still instantly recognise and feel very comfortable with. The Black Country Communion may have been laid to rest, but worry not, the California Breed is set to thrive!

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