added: 12 Apr 2014
// release date: 19 May 2014 // label: Frontiers
reviewer: Andy Snipper
For anyone who has been hiding under a rock, California Breed are a new trio fronted by the legendary Glenn Hughes alongside Jason Bonham and new find Andrew Watt.
In interview Hughes said that the sound of the band was “Organic” and a return to his days of Trapeze in that he was enjoying being in a power trio again and there is a definite organic link to those days. Bonham is a brilliant drummer, massively powerful and with chops that most drummers could only dream of and allied to Hughes basslines the sound is powerful but incredibly fluid and, yes. Organic. Watts was recommended to Hughes by Julian Lennon and sounds like the find of the year as his playing is a perfect match to Hughes.
"Literally, the first day me and Andrew got together we wrote two songs," recalls Hughes. "One was ‘Chemical Rain’ and the other was ‘Solo’ (both featured on the new album), I was so moved by the music, I said, ‘We’ve got to record this!’ That’s when I called Jason."
Hughes and Bonham sought out Dave Cobb to produce rather than sticking with Kevin Shirley and his approach makes the sound raw and brutal but when they settle to a groove the sound flows with an almost retro sense of headspace.
At Cobb’s insistence, every vocal was recorded live as the band was playing. "Totally the reverse of what I’m used to," says Hughes. "I went into that aggressive rock soulfulness and everything down to the whispers, it was all done live! I enjoyed myself so much, just going for it. For a three-piece, the sheer range of sounds and melodies you get from California Breed are breathtaking."
Inevitably there are echoes of past glories, especially the psych sounds of Trapeze in tracks like ‘Chemical Rain’ but it is also here that you hear the talent of Andrew Watt to the fore and his searing sound underpins Hughes vocals.
Everything about the album sounds as though the three are playing as one and this is something that really can only be found in a trio – there isn’t any place to hide but also no flab so the results are equally reliant on all three members.
The album itself shows a wide range of styles from the BCC like ‘The Way’ through the power rock of ‘Sweet Tea’ and the aforementioned ‘Chemical Rain’ but also gets down and funky on ‘Midnight Oil’ and quite beautiful on ‘All Falls Down’ where Hughes shows that he can still sing without screaming and Watt plays some fine acoustic. Closer ‘Breathe’ shimmers with a gentle passion.
All through the album you can hear what made Hughes such a natural for bands like Purple and BCC and why Jason Bonham is in such high esteem across the business. The revelation is Andrew Watt – his guitar playing as good as anything you’ll hear this year.
This sounds like Glenn Hughes and Jason Bonham are in the right place after the demise of Black Country Communion and the trio is a monster.
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