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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Strange Karma

Strange Karma Volume 1

Review by Gary Hill

Strange Karma is an unusual band that’s hard to pin down. Many reviewers compare them to Led Zeppelin, and there are moments on this set where that’s a valid argument. Led Zeppelin is more of a starting point than a destination for these guys, though. Cheap Trick, Jane’s Addiction and the Sweet are all equally valid comparisons. Several spots on the disc qualify as progressive rock, but overall these guys are hard rock that’s informed by classic rock and other sounds.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
America

This cut is much like a raw punk meets metal kind of tune. It’s pretty cool with a sound that is, at times, almost like The Sweet (think “Action.”).

Down And Out
There’s a lot more classic rock sound built into this. It’s hard rocking and quite cool. It’s less raw and more accessible out of the gate. Comparisons to Guns N Roses wouldn’t be out of the question. I can also hear some early Cheap Trick.
Time
Starting more balladic, this has some of that Cheap Trick element, but also calls to mind more modern acts like Velvet Revolver. It powers out towards more hard rocking territory, but strings keep it from being too rough around the edges. I’m not overly crazy about the string section here, though. It’s good, but kind of a little over the top. They do tear out into an almost progressive rock jam later that’s quite cool.
Fame
Classic rock and prog merge on the opening here. The cut powers out from there in an arrangement that surely qualifies as progressive rock. The vocals bringing a rougher, harder edge to the plan, but overall this fits well in a modern prog heading. I can hear bits of Jane’s Addiction built into the number, though. It becomes a much harder rocking tune later with classic rock merging with jam band sounds and more of that Jane’s Addiction element.
Storm
Here we get a smoking hot riff-driven jam that’s very tasty. It’s got a lot of Led Zeppelin built in, but also sounds that are more in keeping with the music presented on the rest of the set. There are some cool twists and turns here.
Harder Than A Stone
This one comes close to heavy metal. It’s raw and tasty. The other influences presented earlier in the set still exist here, but this has an even crunchier approach. Led Zeppelin gets a bigger nod than on the previous tune.
Uneasy
More like a classic rock power ballad, this leans towards Sweet and Cheap Trick more than anything else. Still, it fits with the musical concepts presented on the rest of the set.
Young and Free
Here’s another cut that brings some progressive rock to the table. There is a prevalent keyboard element here. It still features a lot of the sounds we’ve heard throughout, but takes things in a new direction at the same time. If the whole disc were like this, I’d include it in the progressive rock section of the site. This actually quite an intriguing piece of music and arguably one of the strongest numbers of the whole set.
Mind Games
Jane’s Addiction and Cheap Trick are the prime motivators on this song. There’s also some Red Hot Chili Peppers to be heard, though. This is an energetic and raw cut that just plain rocks. It does work out to some music that’s closer to progressive rock later.
Indian Sun
Those looking to plant Strange Karma into the progressive rock category would want to point here. This is a powerhouse tune that combines all the sounds these guys have played throughout the set into an arrangement that twists and turns in great ways. Strings are used here to bring a symphonic element over the top of a generally hard rocking motif. This is a powerhouse tune that is the strongest number on show here. There are bits that call to mind Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” a bit. Overall, this is the just great! For that reason, it was an excellent choice for album closer.
 
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