First off, it's so good to have new music from Glenn Hughes and this one is certainly a cracker!
CALIFORNIA BREED show off the very best of Hughes & Bonham and introduce newcomer, Andrew Watt, who is certainly a revelation on guitar, and no way a one-trick pony!
Very first impressions are fresh, modern rock and very much in the now with a tip of the hat to days gone by.
From the opening salvo of 'The Way', there are tinges of Sabbath, with a bombastic chorus that is sure to be a real crowd pleaser and certainly would of been one of my first picks as the debut single.
The actual first single follows, 'Sweet Tea'. It's a good time rock'n'rolla that takes us back to the '70s in a heartbeat with a memorable vocal chorus, solid drumming by Bonham and riffmeister-like guitar work from Watt.
'Chemical Rain' is a real standout track for me, highlighting the now and showing that CALIFORNIA BREED are a new band with new ideas, but at the same time, embracing the best of the past, with a nod to Zeppelin and The Beatles thrown-in, added with a good measure of outstanding Glenn Hughes vocals, as only he can deliver. Even Andrew Watt joins in on the vocals, but where he shines, is with exhilarating guitar playing mid-way through the song.
Another single, is up next, 'Midnight Oil', which gets the heart pumping almost the moment you first hear Bonham's drums kick things off! It soon turns into a riff monster of a track, with the added bonus of female backing vocals joining Glenn Hughes on lead. With an almost early Nugent-like guitar break, Andrew Watt shines where he's allowed to on this song, as the vocals certainly are the highlight on this one! Although Bonham's opening and closing drumming, fills any room with chants of "more, more"!
Next, we're taken down a notch in volume, with one of the stand out tracks on the album, 'All Falls Down', which once again shows Glenn Hughes as one of the top rock vocalists of our time and why I have supported him through the many years of ups & downs! We also get to hear Andrew Watt joining him on vocals during the chorus. With solid drumming from Jason Bonham and perfect guitar throughout, this song really gives me the goosebumps and the feeling; that's it hard to believe they haven't played together for years!
Next up we're taken back to full-speed, heading straight into 'The Grey', with a sonic filled chorus, highlighting all three members of this dynamic trio! Bonham's back beat keeps things on an even keel throughout, while Hughes' vocals tell the story and Watt's guitar playing is pure genius.
'Days May Come', I must admit, is not my favorite track, primarily because of the main chorus, but as a song, it is another highlight, with a touch of The Who thrown in and sonically perfect. Glenn's vocals are outstanding as is Bonham's drumming, with a solid performance by Watt, all of which save this one for me!
'Spit You Out' is a big fave! The complete opposite of the previous song!! It shouts modern rock, very much in the now and allows Andrew Watt to put his stamp on the band with his Bowie-esque style, he takes on lead vocals, but is soon joined by Glenn. Watt's singing and writing on this song is really a highlight.
'Strong' is another big fave with Ronson/Hoople guitar tones in the opening moments; the lyrics and overall vocal delivery by Glenn Hughes are what I've been craving for the past couple of years! Jezzus, one vocal part must last close to a minute without a breath taken!! Bonham's drumming, in addition to Hughes bass playing and Watt's guitar, are all 5-star performances on this song, with almost a nod to Fleetwood Mac towards the mid-point (yes, that's a bit of stretch, but listen carefully)!
'Invisible' has touches of Zeppelin's 'Kashmir', but again, Hughes' vocal delivery is what makes this track a real highlight for me. Backed up with bombastic drumming from Bonham and unique guitar prowess from Watt, make you just want to stand-up and clap, I can't wait to hear and see this one live!
Next up is 'Scars', with a layer of fine guitar work from Watt which perfectly gels with Hughes' lyrical delivery and monster drumming from Bonham. A modern but classic approach, make this song a real standout and should be another crowd pleaser!
The closing number, 'Breathe', is a beautiful song which allows the band to show-off Hughes' vocals to the max and there is a wonderful guest appearance by Julian Lennon on the chorus, although this song is acoustic based, it's planted in solid rock with haunting electric guitars, vocals and drumming. It's the perfect ending to a solid debut album from this new trio.
But wait, there's more! The very best is left for last!! 'Solo', from the very first listen to the album, was and still is, my very favorite song, despite it being labeled the "bonus" track, this one really does it for me! Perfect drumming from Bonham, glorious vocal delivery from Hughes and it gives Watt the opportunity to stretch out and show us his stuff. The lyrics are outstanding and again is another song, that allows us to see and hear this trio in all their glory. This one, is really a "must have" for me, in the live set!
So in closing; it's been a long time coming, and I'm pleased to say this has to be the best work Glenn Hughes and Jason Bonham have done in years and newcomer and all rounder, Andrew Watt is a stunning revelation.
10/10 ~ 5 Stars ~ 100%
You can take a preview listen of 12 songs here:
I can't wait to hear it myself. Really really lookin forward to this one.
I know some others are lucky enough to have a copy. Howabout your reviews, thoughts??
Bring em on!
...an 8/10 review from UK based, Classic Rock Magazine, in their latest June 2014 issue
Here's a review from Issue 63 of UK based, Fireworks Magazine
...another excellent review this time from Get Ready To ROCK!Quote
California Breed the band, and the album title, doesn’t so much reflect the musician’s origins, as simply nail an attitude, a feel and a vibe, full of expansive hard rock that sends out a statement of intent for a kick ass band with a new musical direction.
great review David! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
...another good 'un 9/10Quote
If you were ever in doubt about the state of rock music’s health nowadays, popping “California Breed” on will alleviate any such fears. All three musicians are at the top of their game and clearly having a blast while doing so.
...another 9/10 review as featured in the May 2014 issue of Powerplay Rock & Metal Magazine (UK)
4-Star review from UK based, Q Magazine in their latest, June 2014, issue...
...outstanding review over at Über RöckQuote
This really is a powerhouse of a band sounding like they are ready to conquer the world...
Ditching keys and ramping up the guitar, California Breed is not to be compared with Black Country Communion. If anything, this is Hughes approaching the hard rock sound of the past and injecting some fresh interest.
Guitar & Bass Magazine (UK) has just published a fabulous review of the new California Breed album, in their latest June 2014 issue.
...this debut album gets the fists pumping and the heart righteously racing.
...9/10 review from The Midlands RocksQuote
Dave Cobb has captured what encompasses three generations of musicians listening to and complimenting each other
...an excellent 9-1/2 out of 10 review by Metal DiscoveryQuote
...quite possibly, the twenty first century's most dynamically infectious, organically alluring, and innately rocked-up retro record thus far.
...good review over @ Planet MoshQuote
There’s a real “Live” feel to the music – as though the songs were recorded at a gig rather than in a recording studio, and that bodes well for future live dates as I’m quite sure these songs will all sound great on stage.
Wow...what a lot of good reviews! Enough to read this weekend :p thanks for the great collection, David. And your review is excellent, I just devoured it!
...good review over @ Planet Mosh
Yes, and I also like the final statement: "...it’s one of those albums that grows on you too. I enjoyed it the first time I listened to it, but the more I listen, the more I love this album." Exactly my feelings.
4-Star review in the June 2014 issue of Total Guitar magazine (UK)