It's an easy temptation to compare California Breed to it's predecessor, Black Country Communion. To look upon Glenn Hughes and Jason Bonham's new power trio as BCC minus Joe Bonamassa and Derek Shirinian, as their debut album as the fourth BCC studio effort. Easy, but wrong. A far better comparative would be Hughes 70's power trio, Trapeze, with the California Breed album slotting itself musically in a natural progression after 1970's Medussa and '72's You Are The Music... We're Just the Band.
California Breed is in fact exactly as advertised, a power trio of the old school. As much as the narrative on Black Country Communion was a band out of the 70's, there was always something about that story that rang false. California Breed is far closer in feel and mood to a 70's band, with the twist that guitarist Andrew Watt often sounds straight out of the 90's grunge movement.
The problem is, the power-push rhythm section is missing the tempering quality of Bonamassa, his instinctively melodic lines that make sense of the rhythm sections natural inkling to roll with power for the entire album. While Watt is a good guitar player, he is too inclined to join the raucous fun, with the end result being an album that is thunderously rockin' and entirely forgettable.
That's not to say that there are no softer moments, no ballads. But even the ballads, such as All Falls Down and Chemical Rain, are driven by a distorted guitar instead of defaulting to an acoustic (Breathe being the exception, using an acoustic throughout). The Ballads however, along with Sweet Tea, despite it's obvious similarity with Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love, and Spit You Out are the albums highlights.
The problem falls in a number of heavy (as in plodding) numbers that sound more or less alike and are meaningless, loud and otherwise boring: The Grey; Days they Come; Strong; Invisible and Scars are interchangeable and boring in spite of their volume.
The reality is I want to like this album, I like Glenn Hughes and, as a loyal Led Zeppelin fan am cheering for Jason Bonham to do well. I want to like this album, but I just can't. It has it's moments where it's good, but it has far too many that detract from the good within. I want to like it, but I know the truth is, having reviewed it, I will probably never listen to it again.