Sunday, May 25, 2014

California Breed: A Breath of Fresh Air

When rock super group Black Country Communion broke up back in 2012, many of the fans wondered what would be next for the members: Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Sherinian, and Jason Bonham. While Bonamassa and Sherinian have gone their own way, Bonham (son of the legendary Led Zeppelin drummer) and Hughes (of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Trapeze fame) decided to start something new together. For several months Hughes on all of his social media accounts alluded to a brand new band he was working with that would be something new and amazing. He gave no clue however as to who was in the band and what kind of a sound they would be aiming for until late 2013.

The new band was revealed to be called California Breed and it would consist of Hughes on bass and lead vocals, Bonham on drums, and a relatively unknown 23 year old Andrew Watt on guitar and backing vocals. A short snippet from one song was then released to tide fans over until another song Sweet Tea was released as a single. On May 20, 2014, the band dropped its 12 track debut album California Breed.

Produced by Dave Cobb, who is known for producing Rival Sons, California Breed features a sound that is very divergent from Hughes's and Bonham's previous venture together. Rather than a heavy blues rock sound that is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, Free, and Deep Purple this power trio focuses more on bass heavy funky groove rock. This new sound while still being very signature of Glenn Hughes still sounds very fresh and original; no doubt this can be attributed to Watt's young blood.

One track in particular that stands out is the opener, The Way. It sets the vibe for the whole album with its loud low end punch set to a really steady groove that the listener can move their head to while driving in their convertible down the highway. Hughes shows off his 62 year old vocal ability by going from loud Robert Plant type wailing to softer more melodic singing within very quick transitions. Watt makes his presence very much noticed with a thick punch from the song's signature riff. The tone and feel Watt's playing gives off is distinctly different from many other guitarists his age. Naturally Mr. Bonham upholds the prestige of his family name by providing absolutely animalistic skin smacking while still keeping everything in time.

Another memorable song from California Breed is Midnight Oil. While still a loud raucous tune, there are minor nuances of the guitar playing that are vaguely reminiscent of Hughes's early 70's funk band Trapeze. However, it still stands very much on its own. The abilities of both Bonham and Watt truly shine through in this tune. Bonham has multiple thunderous drum solos and Watt shows off how quick and flashy his shredding chops really can be.

All in all, California Breed is a breath of fresh air for the rock scene. It's overall vibe is wonderful for cruising around in a car with the windows rolled down on a warm summer night. Due to that fact, the timing of its release could not have been better. In essence, the band is aptly named because it gives that feel that is expected when thinking of California. Even if you are unfamiliar with the musicians' previous works, this album is worth the money of anyone who is a fan of rock n' roll or music with good rhythm and vibes.

Track List:

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

California Breed receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Midnight Oil, by California Breed:

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