Gnarly Karma – Classic Breeze

Gnarly Karma is a band that hails from Long Island, New York. Although they originally formed a few years ago, Classic Breeze is their first album. Mike Renert handles the guitar, vocals and harmonica. Jarrod Beyer is the drummer. Ryan McAdam fills out the rhythm section on bass. Billy Hanley plays keyboards and saxophone. They gel together quite well, creating a unified sound.

Fans of Dave Matthews and other similar type jam bands will probably be the most comfortable here. The majority of this album feels a lot like that kind of overall sound. Even when it works out from to distance itself from that territory, there are still bits of the sound present. To my ears not everything works all that well, but a lot of it does. Since I’m not a huge jam band devotee, though, it makes sense. I do, however, love how the album is basically book-ended with two similar sounding pieces.

It seems quite appropriate to give an opening song a title like Open Up (Let Yourself Go) even if it’s just the word and not the meaning of “open” that applies. Jam bands like Dave Matthews really show up quite directly as the influence on the piece. It wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination for someone to mistake this as Dave Matthews. The cut has a great flow and really jams. It’s not really my kind of thing, but it’s fun. I am “rolling with the flow,” as the song suggests.

Please Come Home is grounded in more of that jam band sound in a lot of ways. It’s not as specifically Dave Matthews based, but it’s still a reference point. There is a good contrast between mellower and more rocking sounds.

I can definitely somewhat hear Directions as grunge merged with jazz in some very real ways. It’s still very much a jam band journey at the same time, though.

Next comes Been There Before. I’m brought back to Dave Matthews again with that number for sure. It’s a mellower one. Yet, they manage to rock it, too.

However, they kind of lose me on Eyes Closed. It’s just sort of a strange jam in that it really has that jam band thing, but almost seems to bring in a bit of a modern R&B edge. I just don’t get it.

Reggae and rap are often merged in modern music. Featuring Qung Zav, Young Vibes does exactly that. It also has some real punk edge to it. The combination is unusual and works pretty well.

I love the raw nature of the song that is titled Neptune. It has a real DIY punk feeling to it. That’s really brought home when it powers out for the screaming (literally) section.

Those waiting for some seriously rocking music only have to get through the first half of Shadows. It starts as a mellower tune, but turns to some punk edged sounds in the second half. That movement really brings it all together in style. In some ways they take it out in much the same way they started it. The mellower closing cut (appropriately entitled Outro) feels a lot like Dave Matthews. It’s a fairly short instrumental.

While I’d say there are a couple pieces that don’t work as well as some of the others, overall this is an entertaining disc. I’m not a huge fan of the whole jam band thing, and I like it well enough. Those who are really into that kind of thing will probably be especially pleased with this. As a debut album, it certainly shows a lot of promise for the future of this act.

Check out more samples of Classic Breeze by clicking here.

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