by Alexandra Mrozowska
– Senior Columnist —
After the days under the moniker of Black Country Communion, a supergroup that created an enormous buzz among the rock fans all around the globe, there comes a time to introduce another brainchild of Glenn Hughes and Jason Bonham. With the addition of the guitarist/vocalist Andrew Watt, the two legendary musicians formed California Breed. Their self-titled album is now out and metaphorically faced with a big challenge to fill another important position in its creators’ rich and versatile discographies.
The first track – “The Way” – assaults the listener with a groovy, rough riff accompanied by Glenn Hughes’ trademark high-pitched vocals. This slightly Zeppelin-esque, ‘70s hard rock convention – enhanced by the 21st century production – continues with its follow-up “Sweet Tea.” The second track reaches back even further into the history of rock, as its simple, groovy, ‘60s garage rock-infused guitar riff gravitates towards the sound of the bands such as the early Stones or the Kinks.
Next are significantly slower “Chemical Rain,” a modern-day take on psychedelic rock, and another solid portion of rough, rhythmical riffs against the wall of Hughes’ and the background singer Kristen Rogers’ expressive vocal duo – “Midnight Oil.” The latter finishes with a furious guitar gallop, a real showcase of Watt’s instrumental talent, with Bonham adding a bit of its signature drum pounding, too.
“All Falls Down” starts out subtle to develop into a powerful, blues-infused ballad, led by the emotionally laden, soaring choruses and the wailing guitar solo. “The Grey” and “Days They Come” mark a return to the gritty and rough riffs and more nonchalant, feisty manner of singing, with the echoes of ‘60s rock somewhere in the background again. “Spit It Out” is the Stones’ signature sound revisited, its strong and well-crafted chorus being one of the highlights of the entire material, followed by the contemporary blues piece “Strong.”
Gloomy, ominous “Invisible”, led by the prolonged, thrumming riffs in a doom Sabbath-esque convention, precedes the funky, groovy “Scars.” The last track is “Breathe,” with its acoustic-driven beginning and rapid changes of pace further on
The self-titled debut album of California Breed is something the fans of Glenn Hughes and Jason Bonham will go for anyway, as it’s a valuable addition to the collection of their heroes’ past and present endeavors. But, star-studded line-up aside, the album’s variety and uniqueness of sound are its undeniable assets anyway – even for the listeners not familiar with the respective musicians’ résumés (are there any?). California Breed combines the raw, simple sounds of the ‘60s and the ‘70s with the contemporary rock into an interesting and vivid fusion of genres and sounds. A bit unconventional, perhaps a little unpolished and rather not to be dubbed ‘radio-friendly’, the album skillfully balances between the past and the present. If you’re into looking onto the ‘60s and ‘70s classic rock patterns through the modern-day lens, accompanied by the expected solid performance from the living icons of the genre, you’re going to love this one.
Genre: Hard Rock, Classic Rock
Glenn Hughes: vocals, bass guitar
Jason Bonham: drums
Andrew Watt: Guitar
Dave Cobb – production, percussion
Mike Webb – keyboards
Kristen Rogers – backing vocals
Julian Lennon – additional vocals on “Breathe”
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
Label: Frontiers Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10