CD Review: California Breed – California Breed

CD Review: California Breed – California Breed
Frontiers Records
All Access Rating: A

California Breed - S/T 2014
Take a good, long drink of California Breed's "Sweet Tea." Savor every drop of its lusty, infectious charm and swing in rhythm to riffs as confident and assertive as a fashion model strutting down a runway. And when finished, sit back, reflect for a moment and wonder why the hell this isn't the hottest thing on radio right now. 

Deliciously lascivious, with hooks like claws, the first single from a new power trio consisting of legendary vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes, brawny drummer Jason Bonham and precocious guitar savant Andrew Watt can stop traffic. It's the sexiest song Hughes has ever recorded, and on California Breed's sensational debut Frontiers Records release, this great hunk of burning, soulful, '70s-style hard rock revived for a new millennium in desperate need of the good stuff, his singing is wild, untamed and utterly captivating. 

Thank producer David Cobb (Rival Sons, Shooter Jennings and others) for capturing Hughes' vocals live and making him sound positively feral at times when he's screaming to high heaven in moments of pure ecstasy and Bonham is banging away on the drums, bashing them with great energy and gusto. And then there's Watt, this throwback to an age where diverse musical chops mattered, when a man's solos could soar, could sting and could also soothe and his muscular riffs were always honest, genuine and completely organic.

The past is the past, though, and although the spirited, transcendent rock 'n' roll of Led Zeppelin and Mountain inform the music of California Breed, as does the Southern soul of the Stax Records roster, this material has a fresh vitality, born of unfettered creativity and a healthy respect for simple songwriting that comes straight from the heart, the gut and the genital region. 

Just as there is a stirring in the loins of "Sweet Tea," raw anger spills from "Spit You Out," another specimen of Watt's tough, down-and-dirty riffage also found stomping through the grounds of "The Way." Immersed in colorful, spinning psychedelia, the chorus of "Chemical Rain" is dazzling, while the thrilling R&B wail of "Midnight Oil" builds to a fever pitch, as Hughes emphatically pleads, "Let it burn," perhaps taking a match and a can of gasoline to past regrets. He's even more convincing on the deeply personal primal scream "The Grey," as well as the vulnerable, but ultimately uplifting, "All Falls Down," these redemption songs growing bolder and more daring by the second.

Hands down, Hughes has wrapped up any vocal performance of the year award that's out there, and in California Breed, he may have found his salvation.
– Peter Lindblad

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