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  CALIFORNIA BREED
'California Breed'
(Frontiers Records)
Release Date: 19th May 2014


Tony Conley

tony conley



california breed

Rock Ain't Near Dead - that's been my mantra for a while, and I am now more convinced than ever. California Breed is a fantastic album by a fantastic band. It's new breed, if you will - it doesn't sound like Deep Purple, Black Country Communion, or anything that preceded it. Hughes and Bonham have done some of their best work yet, and the avenue of guitar heroes has a new kid on the block in Andrew Watt.

Glenn Hughes was given lemons - and he squeezed the lemons until they produced a golden nectar. He picked the right few friends and they've done the near impossible in actually transcending what I had expected from this record. I spoke with Glenn a good bit in the aftermath of his last band, and I knew he had a certain fire in his soul, that fire you get when you've done your best and been burned.

He did what should be done, he turned his intense pain and disappointment into love and hard work. He's just told me that this is his best work in 30 years, and I wholeheartedly agree.

Article continues below...



A big question on a lot of minds - how's the guitar playing? The guitar playing is great, and is what makes this so very different than anything in the accumulated catalogues of the band's senior partners - Andrew Watt is a big, brash player who sounds like he was raised on Page, Ronson, and Bolan. Like he was born with a Les Paul in his hands. He's not a shredder, but he sure can play - he's a riff and song sort of guy as opposed to a soloist, but his solos burn for just that reason.

I love that beyond 'the voice of rock,' there is almost nothing to connect this to the deceased Black Country Communion - brilliant as it was, there's no point in rehashing, and there's none to be found here. This is a fresh, new beast that will surprise a great many listeners. Producer Dave Cobb turns out to be right choice behind the board - this sounds like one foot in rock's history, and the other is very much in this moment. Last year's near marriage between Hughes and the Stone Temple Pilots guys now makes much more sense to me. He's again reinvented his sound - the voice is still amazing, and his bass playing is sublime as ever, but you've never heard this before, this is a new suit with a great fit.

Jason Bonham. He's getting better and better - he says this is his finest work, and there is no question that he's right. He's got great technique, but he never makes it the point. Instead, he plays for the song - pushing, pulling, and pounding great performances out of his bandmates. Great drummers understand that their job entails driving the band and songs, shaping them to their will. Bonham obviously gets this, and it's obvious that his writing credits on every song are well deserved.

california breed

The songs....

The Way is probably the most familiar sounding riff on the record, but almost as soon as the words Led Zeppelin cross your mind, Hughes hijacks the tune and takes it for some very sophisticated maneuvering, spurred on by Bonham's thunderous assault. Watt is huge in the mix, and a lesser singer than Hughes may have gotten swallowed up by the tremendous wall of sound. This is going to be a hell of an opener when this bunch hits the stage. This is the way it should go.

A big beat and some swaggering guitar announces the arrival of Sweet Tea, and Hughes breaks out a little funk for the verses before a melodic pre-chorus dives in then gets pushed aside for some extremely cool, effected guitar that makes me miss the days when Aerosmith were still world beaters - Watt tears off his first solo, and it's a right dazzler, exciting and riveting. These guys are having fun. I'm having fun. This is rock.

Watt comes out swinging on the intro of Chemical Rain, and Cobb's presence is palpably felt in the mix - then we get quite psychedelic, as Hughes shows just how masterful a songwriter he's always been. He takes things in a different direction very abruptly, but it feels right - in fact, it feels great. This has a definite Page-y pace, and under the familiar moving guitar part Hughes plays some brutally cool bass. I was just talking to George Lynch the other day about the glory of certain singing bass players and their ability to play a line that is both separate from the guitarist and their vocal lines, and this is a sterling example - listen closely, kids.

Midnight Oil is the first single release, and it's a great example of the more modern side of the band. I've never heard Hughes accompanied by female background singers, but it works quite well. Watt supplies some elastic guitar that makes things swing nicely, and Bonham is pushing and pulling fantastically. The fuzzed out first guitar solo is one of the biggest tones I've heard since American Woman, and Watt's second solo is even hotter - here's where you can hear that the kid can flat out burn.

Things slow down for All Falls Down as Hughes pours out his soul and he continues to earn the title of 'The Voice Of Rock.' He takes it from a whisper to a beautiful bellow on the chorus, and the dynamics are lush and lovely. Lyrically his heart is on his sleeve, and the arrangement is perfect for the content. This is sophisticated and still sweet, a trick that only a master magician can muster. Are there still hit singles? I don't listen to the radio, but this is a hit single, and Watt's stunning solo reminds me of those old Journey smashes, in which things would seem so calm, and then Neal Schon would take us straight to the stratosphere with an epic onslaught of guitaristic beauty. This one's a classic.

The Grey is as close as Glenn Hughes has ever gotten to punk rock - of course, this band doesn't ever stay in one place for long and soon enough, it's off to the futuristic races. This album is as interesting as a Kubrick film - it takes us to places we've never been, and it's fascinating trip. Watt throws down another brilliant solo, and I see why the Ronson comparisons have been made. He's a thrilling player, fearlessly jousting with Hughes and Bonham, two of rock's hardest hitters and faring very well.

You've never heard Glenn Hughes do anything remotely like what goes on in Days They Come - he's going places even he's never been, and when you hear the chorus, you'll congratulate him for his bravery. To be pushing your creative limits at the age of 62 accurately defines how one should live, and our man Hughes is getting it right. Wear a helmet for the chorus of this one, it careens pretty wildly. Dave Cobb is great with choosing vocal effects, and they are fabulous on this one. No one's ever really thought of dressing up 'the voice' like this before, and it fits well.

Spit You Out is more in the vein of modern/indie rock, taking a Bowiesque ride that is very pleasantly retro nouveau. Think Ziggy in the 21st century. Crazy stuff, but trust me, it's a great journey. Glam gets good in 2014. Great guitar sounds abound as the kid breaks out all the right moves.

Strummed acoustic guitars on a Hughes record? Oh, hell yes, and on Strong they blend well with Watt's electric orchestrations and the chorus is even a bit Beatle-y. Pop leanings are a welcome thing, and this again is brand new territory - Bonham handles it well, and keeps the ship in its lanes with a bit of Moon-tastic drumming. Again, it sounds like they're having great fun, breaking down some walls and moving into new arenas, which is as it should be.

Heading down the backstretch, Invisible brings out the big guns, and all three of the Breed are riffing large before things slow down and Glenn's vocal floats above the brilliant din, and Watt's guitar playing is most expressive as it carries the vocal down the river. After their debut, Black Country Communion never made it again to this level of interplay between the members - this sounds like a band that enjoys itself. A glorious, joyful soundscape. Watt's leads are cool compositions of their own, and not just standard lead noodling. Great stuff.

Scars comes in on a wave of layered guitars and its sexy swagger is a welcome antidote to the down nature of our times. This cut is a perfect example of the age range of the band's members - you've got a solid connection to the past with some nice references to the black country history of Bonham and Hughes, but new kid Watt keeps this in place as a fine slice of modernistic rock. Excitement - that's a word I keep coming back to with this record. It's exciting, and I don't say that about too many records these days. I don't know where the songs are leading, and yet again, and again, they're thrilling me when I get to the destination.

More acoustic work accompanies Hughes on the intro to Breathe, and as things develop you hear where the singer has been headed ever since he returned to his rock roots back in 2010. I'm damned glad to have him back in this arena, because he's an artist - first, and foremost - he follows his muse faithfully, not stopping to pay heed to naysayers, or unbelievers. The man is true to his soul, and how many classic rockers can you say that about these days? He's got a team that is right beside him putting out 110% at every moment - nobody wants to pack up and go home, nobody's waiting around to get paid, and when you hear this tune fade, you'll just hit repeat.

California Breed is going to be tough to beat as the year progresses towards the inevitable top tens, and if you haven't pre-ordered this record yet, go ahead and do that now. You aren't going to want to be a day late for this party.

Glenn Hughes - congratulations, my friend. You took what could have been a hard setback, and you've turned it into a great success, and an inspiration for anyone who chooses to pay attention. I know what it took, and you passed with more than flying colors.

And, we have a new guitar hero in Andrew Watt - playing for the tune and the thrills is a beautiful thing.


beer beer beerbeerbeer


9.4.14











 

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"Some of these songs were never played live before so we had to go back and relearn them for the tour."

ozzy osbourne OZZY OSBOURNE: "I'M NOT HAPPY BEING SOBER"
"It scares me. I hear all the time people say that they have another drink in them but they may not have another sobriety in them..."

paul rodgers IT'S NOT ALL RIGHT NOW! PAUL RODGERS SUES DONALD TRUMP
"We will make America great again. God bless you and good night, I love you."

heavy metal HEAVY METAL HELPS PEOPLE DEAL WITH MORTALITY ACCORDING TO OFFICIAL STUDY
"Metal music can be seen as cultural good for fans and thereby can form part of their social identity."

motorhead MOTÖRHEAD STILL RUNNING DOWN THE HIGHWAY: PHIL, MIKKEY AND EDDIE ALL GEARED UP FOR FORTHCOMING DATES
"Every snare hit I do from now on until the end of my career will be a small tribute to Lemmy..."

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN'S STEVE HARRIS DROPS THE PRICE OF HIS ESSEX MANSION BY £1MILLION
The eight-bedroom mansion was on the market for £6.75million in 2012 but it's "guide price" is now a mere £3.95million...

hrh aor ALL GUNS BLAZING FOR NEW HRH AOR 5 ANNOUNCEMENT
Phil Lewis & Tracii Guns unite under the L.A. Guns banner once again for next year's HRH AOR 5 being held next March at Camp HRH in North Wales...

deep purple DEEP PURPLE 'LIVE AT THE NEC' DVD ON THE WAY: FAREWELL JON, WELCOME DON
The two share keyboard duties during the night in a very fitting "passing-of-the-torch" moment...

status quo ROCK 'TIL YOU DROP WITH STATUS QUO 1981-1986 VINYL BOX SET
In addition to the studio albums the box set will include an extra disc of b-sides and extended mixes...

zz top ZZ TOP TO RELEASE THEIR VERY FIRST OFFICIAL LIVE ALBUM IN SEPTEMBER
"In an abstract surrealism style, this collection is a definitive chronicle of the band hangin' together for four plus deluxe decades..."

tygers of pan tang TYGERS OF PAN TANG "SPECIAL TIME" HAS COME WITH NEW RELEASE
"The new Tygers album is finished, done and dusted and ready to unleash on our 'Tygertastic' audience. You're gonna love this one, it's a MONSTER..."

andy fraser ANDY FRASER OF FREE'S LAST RECORDING WITH SAIICHI SUGIYAMA ONLINE HERE
"'Melting Away' became one of Andy's last recordings. He still had so much to offer and I was really looking forward to continuing to work with him."

ritchie blackmore RITCHIE BLACKMORE'S RAINBOW TO PLAY AGAIN BUT WITH LESS DEEP PURPLE SONGS
"I would do probably ninety-five percent Rainbow songs; that's what they seem to want to hear. And it didn't occur to me. I just naturally assumed they wanted to hear everything."

saxon EXCLUSIVE: THIS IS WHAT OUR FAVOURITE ROCKERS THINK OF THE CURRENT POLITICAL CLIMATE
Comment from Saxon, Slash, Thunder, Iron Maiden, Uli Jon Roth, Hawkwind, Cher, Johnny Rotten, Machine Head And More...

beyond the black UK EXCLUSIVE: BEYOND THE BLACK SINGER JENNIFER HABEN IS LOST IN FOREVER AS FIVE MEMBERS DEPART THE BAND
"I have enjoyed the time together with the guys very much and am grateful for everything we have achieved together in Germany. I am currently looking for new colleagues..."

cats in space CATS IN SPACE SET TO RELEASE SLADE CLASSIC WITH DANNY BOWES OF THUNDER ON GUEST VOCALS
"It's is one of my favourite Slade songs, so when they asked me to sing on their version it took me a good second and a half to say yes..."

guns n roses WAS BREAKING NEWS: GUNS N' ROSES ADD MORE TOUR DATES FOR OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER
The Gunners' newly announced dates are for South America with ten dates in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile and Colombia with more to be announced soon...

keith moon YOU WON'T GET FOOLED WITH OFFICIAL KEITH MOON COMMEMORATIVE DRUM HEAD
Manufactured as a special, custom product by Remo, these 14" high-gloss drum heads are a perfect collector's item for true fans of the legendary drummer and The Who...

the answer WAS BREAKING NEWS: THE ANSWER AND THE DEAD DAISIES ANNOUNCE NOVEMBER UK TOUR
"The fact that we get to debut this new material with our mates The Dead Daisies just adds to the rush we're currently experiencing. You really don't want to miss this one!"

ian gillan IAN GILLAN SAYS: "IT'S A WONDERFUL THING, VINYL..." WITH NEW COLLECTION ABOUT TO BE RELEASED
"You just bought something significant, not easily disposable. And look at the sleeves - aren't they cool..."

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS NEW ALBUM ON THE WAY: "THE LYRICS ON THE TITLE TRACK ARE SOME OF SPIKE'S BEST EVER!"
"I approached the songwriting from a different angle and it felt good. There's a lot of passion there."

48 hours 48 HOURS TO ROCK THE UK TO A CITY OF ASHES
"We're hitting the road in September for a co-headline tour with our broseph's City Of Ashes! This will be one of the unsigned tours of the year!"

hammerfall WAS BREAKING NEWS: LIVE LIFE LOUD WITH HAMMERFALL ON 2017 EUROPEAN TOUR: NEW ALBUM ON THE WAY
"We can't wait to get back on stage again to have a gigantic Heavy Metal party every night with all our Templar friends!"

joe perry AEROSMITH GUITARIST JOE PERRY REPORTEDLY SUFFERS HEART ATTACK DURING HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES GIG
"Thanks to everyone asking about our brother Joe Perry," Alice Cooper wrote. "He is stable right now, with family and is under the best care."

onslaught ONSLAUGHT, BEHOLDER AND ANIHILATED TOUR PROMISES TO BE A TOUR DE FORCE
"By the time we hit the road in November it will be well over two-and-a-half years since we did the last run and we feel the time is now right..."

arw ARW (JON ANDERSON, TREVOR RABIN AND RICK WAKEMAN) ANNOUNCE BAND FOR UPCOMING WORLD TOUR
"I have played with arguably the three greatest bass players ever and I can't wait to play with one of them again!"

marillion MARILLION UNVEIL 'THE NEW KINGS' FROM FORTHCOMING STUDIO ALBUM 'FEAR'
'The New Kings' can also be heard on Marillion's current tour which starts on Monday 11th July in Barcelona...

michael des barres AN AMERICAN WRITER ASKS WHY IT TAKES A BRITISH EX-PAT TO ASK, "WHAT'S GOING ON?" MICHAEL DES BARRES HAS THE ANSWER
This incendiary cover of Marvin Gaye's classic confronts America's issues in an incredibly timely and head-on manner...

freedom call FREEDOM CALL RELEASE A NEW METAL HYMN 'HAMMER OF THE GODS', AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD NOW
The trademark bold vocal harmonies remain. The track is taken from forthcoming opus 'Master Of Light'...

guns n roses STEVEN ADLER JOINS GUNS N' ROSES ON STAGE IN OHIO: FOUR FIFTHS OF 'APPETITE' LINE-UP PLAY TOGETHER FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1990
"On the drums, you might know this guy. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Steven Adler..."

ac dc AC/DC BASSIST CLIFF WILLIAMS TO RETIRE AFTER ROCK OR BUST WORLD TOUR: "IT'S BEEN SURREAL"
"AC/DC has been... you know, just... I don't know what else I would wanna do. I love the music and I love playing in the band, and I'm all filled up..."

guns n roses GUNS N' ROSES USE THEIR ILLUSION TO SILENCE THE DOUBTERS WITH US TOUR GOING SO FINE
Axl is clearly in his element on this tour, running across the stage to jump on the monitors mid-song and displaying all the panache of a man completely on top of his game...

stray del bromham STRAY TO ROAM AROUND THE UK ON TOUR INCLUDING A RARE REUNION OF THE ORIGINAL LINE-UP
No need to move a mountain as both Stray and Del Bromham's Blues Devils are on their way to a venue near you...

amorettes THE AMORETTES ANNOY THE NEIGHBOURS WITH RAUCOUS NEW SINGLE
'Let The Neighbours Call The Cops' was co- written by vocalist Gill Montgomery and Black Star Riders front man Ricky Warwick...

eagles of death metal WAS BREAKING NEWS: EAGLES OF DEATH METAL WANT YOU SO BAD ON TWO UK DATES IN AUGUST
This is EODM's first visit to the UK since the band were caught up in the terrible events at The Bataclan Theatre in Paris back in November 2015...

soil SOiL 'SHINE ON' THE UK WITH COMPREHENSIVE TOUR
"We are looking forward to seeing some new places and making some new friends this time around..."

acid reign ACID REIGN GET IN FESTIVE MOOD EARLY WITH SPECIAL GIG ANNOUNCEMENT
'Tis the season to Thrash as Acid Reign team up with Shrapnel with far from obnoxious results...

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN: LEGACY OF THE BEAST MOBILE RPG GAME IS OUT NOW
"We've always wanted to make a quality Maiden mobile game as we think the combination of Eddie and the music is so well suited..."

rick parfitt status quo EXCLUSIVE: STATUS QUO'S RICK PARFITT SEEMS TO BE 'FINE FINE FINE' AS HE IS SPOTTED OUT AND ABOUT
Following the recent health scare a picture has emerged online of him taking a walk in Kingston over the weekend...

bullet for my valentine BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE TO PLAY 'THE POISON' IN FULL FOR THE FIRST EVER TIME
"We promised you something special right? See 'The Poison' played in full for the first time in Manchester! Tickets on sale now here..."

alter bridge WAS BREAKING NEWS: ALTER BRIDGE TO HEADLINE ARENAS ACROSS EUROPE THIS WINTER WITH GOJIRA AND VOLBEAT
This will be their biggest headline tour yet with twenty-four dates across fifteen countries, kicking off on November 4th 2016

the mission WAS BREAKING NEWS: BAUHAUS FRONTMAN PETER MURPHY TO GUEST WITH THE MISSION ON THEIR 30th ANNIVERSARY UK TOUR
"Peter's appearance will help make these shows the special events that we always wanted and hoped they'd be..."

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN ILLUSTRATOR DESIGNS SHIRT FOR ONE DIRECTION'S ZAYN MALIK, MAIDEN LAUNCH THIRD TROOPER BEER AND HI-ON-MAIDEN TO HEADLINE PICCSTOCK
A full-bodied beer using a blend of chocolate and crystal malts to give "a roasted malt and caramel backbone with hints of liquorice and honey"...

bruce dickinson BRUCE DICKINSON TO TAKE PART IN TOP GEAR STYLE CHARITY ROAD TRIP
"The enthusiasm from the group is amazing which will lend itself to making it an unforgettable trip..."

anvil WAS BREAKING NEWS: ANVIL ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPEAN TOUR FOR OCTOBER/NOVEMBER
Anvil will not only be playing dates in Scotland and Wales but also English towns which rarely see major international artists, such as Huddersfield, Doncaster and Grimsby.

status quo IT'S TIME TO GET 'DOWN DOWN' TO BUTLINS AS SECOND STATUS QUO FAN CLUB CONVENTION IS ANNOUNCED
The weekend will feature live music from ex-Quo drummer John Coghlan and his band with long time friend of the band, Jackie Lynton also scheduled to appear...

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