CALIFORNIA BREED – California Breed

California Breed AlbumOn paper, Black Country Communion looked like a match made in heaven. Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian felt like they belonged together. Sure, we heard about things being pretty turbulent from the beginning and that producer Kevin Shirley (Bonamassa, Journey, Iron Maiden, Europe) was the guy holding the pieces together and that Hughes big ego clashed with Bonamassa’s tight schedule. Black Country Communion made three albums, Black Country (2010), II (2011) and Afterglow (2012) and with each album being better than the last, it looked like Black Country Communion would have a bright future ahead. But when Joe Bonamassa made it clear that his solo career was his main priority – and he was clear about this from the beginning – things turned sour. Where Glenn Hughes’ opinion was that Black Country Communion should be everyone’s first choice, it totally clashed when Bonamassa said that it wasn’t for him and all of a sudden, Black Country Communion were no more. Personally, I’d take BCC over Joe Bonamassa’s solo stuff 24/7, but in Bonamassa’s defense, he was very clear about the whole situation from go and his solo career is a very lucrative business and it has made him and his right hand, producer Kevin Shirley very wealthy, so him chosing that couldn’t have come as a surprise for anybody. If Glenn was in Joe’s position I can guarantee that he’d do the same, but my guess is that Hughes wanted this band to work so bad that he ignored all the warning signs. So instead of keeping BCC alive with a replacement for Bonamassa, Hughes and Bonham decided to keep moving on with a new name as a power trio, leaving Sherinian the odd man out. If truth is to be told, Sherinian felt like an unused talent with BCC. The guy is way too talented to be a background organist which he in many ways was in BCC. Sherinian is now in Bonamassa’s touring band as a full-time member. So next  the next thing to do was to find a new guitar player – and they needed a hot-shot one. Enter: Andrew Watt!

Andrew Watt is a 23-year-old New York native guitar hero who was recommended to Hughes by the pair’s mutual friend Julian Lennon. Although influenced by the 70’s guitar heroes such as Blackmore, Page, Hendrix, this guy also has a soft spot for grunge, which could be a scary thing, but those influences doesn’t really shine through much. After one listen to this album, it’s clear that Watt is just what the doctor ordered – the guy is really a spark for the two older gents in the band. Think about it, he is 40 years younger than Glenn Hughes… They decided to call the band California Breed and when they have settled, the song writing came quick. A little too quick, it felt like, but on the other hand BCC made their records really fast and they became better with each release. There were some big words spoken about this band and record by the members before its release so they had a lot to live up to. How did it work, then? Splendid, would be my honest answer. The guys booked producer Dave Cobb, who has made a real big name for himself as the producer of Rival Sons and went to work. “The Way” opens up the album with a bang. This is Led Zeppelin, Rival Sons and Scorpion Child in a big messy threesome. The groove, the melody, the performances – brilliant. “Sweet Tea” rocks with a fantastic groove, the brilliant “Midnight Oil” is a 70’s groover with a magnificent melody and “All Falls Down” is completely cheeseless ballad, like they were done in the early 70’s. On “Days They Come”, the band goes hard and loud and it fits them really well and “Spit You Out” sounds like old-time rock ‘n’ roll, but not saggy at all. The song has this distorted kinda MC5 – ish guitars and the hook is brilliant, making the song catchy in a punky kind of way. “Invisible” is heavy and raw with a psychedelic feel to it, “Scars” is a hard rocker with a rough groove and  they finish the album in little more poppy – but still great – way with “Breathe”, an acoustic based, very catchy rock song.

Even though I liked BCC more and more, this album comes as a bit of a surprise. I mean, this album was made quite quickly, but the quality hasn’t suffered one bit, quite the contrary. This album kicks all three of BCC’s albums right into next week. As for Joe Bonamassa, I don’t miss him one bit and Andrew Watt is really a breath of fresh air. Together the three of them are so on fire you can hear the sparks fly and for Hughes and Bonham to have a young, hot-shot player that fires on cylinders in the band does them really good and I imagine that keeps them on their toes musically as well. I really hope that California Breed will continue as a hungry rock band because this is what the world needs, in my opinion and I would love to catch this band live. Black Country Communion are dead, long live California Breed.

Jon Wilmenius (9/10)

Tracklist:

01. The Way
02. Sweet Tea
03. Chemical Rain
04. Midnight Oil
05. All Falls Down
06. The Grey
07. Days They Come
08. Spit You Out
09. Strong
10. Invisible
11. Scars
12. Breathe

 

4 comments on “CALIFORNIA BREED – California Breed

    • Give it a go. It’s so awesome. Hughes has done so many killer albums, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath’s Seventh Star, John Norum’s Face The Truth, Phenomena…
      Some of his solo albums are also awesome, but many of them are also really dull and uneven.
      But if you like Black Country Communion, you’ll love this.

  1. Jon your 2 for 2 …first I got the Winery Dogs and now I just bought California (both were iTunes purchases) by your reviews.
    Your right what a great debut now I only had the debut BCC but I can’t remember when I last listened to it. Upon first listen though CB like u said kicks BCC into next week!
    The production is awesome as well just as the performances ..Hughes is on fire man! Bonham playing how Bonham should and Watts great young guitarist .
    I have only made it thru half the album but Sweet Tea & Chemical Rain are wickedly good!
    Thanks man for the review !
    Great job!

    • Wow. Thanks. Glad I could be of some assistance. It’s really nice to have others discovering stuff that I really dig myself. So, Deke, let’s spread the word, shall we?
      I’m curious to hear what Ladano thinks of this.

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