Review: Mad Karma “Mad Karma”

Mad Karma “Mad Karma”

13 Jan, 2011 Rhonda Readence

Mad Karma is a Northern California-based band consisting of Dave Gold on guitar, Eric Woodman on guitar and talk box, Bill Bledsoe on drums, Keith Hanson on bass, and Ron Rubio on vocals.  All members contribute to the vocals and Mad Karma’s sound can best be described as light melodic rock with an 80’s flair.  Lead vocalist Ron Rubio has a classic voice reminiscent of Jon Bon Jovi or perhaps a smoother Sammy Hagar.  Their self-titled album is full of rhythmic guitar work, intelligent lyrics and excellent musicianship throughout.

It starts off with the song “Mad Karma,” a guitar-driven anthem that is the perfect introduction to this band.  Ron’s vocals are strong, confident, and bring to mind classic bands of the 80’s such as Damn Yankees, Tesla and Faster Pussycat, but Mad Karma isn’t an 80’s hair band.  Their sound is modern enough to fit snugly in the year 2011 and garner a solid fan base.  “Madness” follows and it contains some exceptional guitar work.  The hook is contagious and this track sinks its teeth in from the start.  The band does some good vocal harmonizing in this piece too, and this would be a great song to see performed live.  The audience would be singing along and jumping up and down in time to the snappy beat.

“Kiss On Me” has a catchy melody that is more reminiscent of 80’s hair bands than the preceding tracks.  Another killer piece that would be fantastic to see live, this track will be a fan favorite.  “Goodbye” is a slower song, more of a ballad, and it’s lovely.  Ron’s vocals are inspiring and the lyrics are well written.  Mad Karma truly comes together in this piece and the entire song flows smoothly from beginning to end.  “Where’s The Antidote?” changes things up a bit with Keith Hanson

singing through a talk box, lending a semi-creepy robotic essence to the vocals.  An eccentric touch that fits well, this delivery is refreshingly different and the entire track is pure rock ‘n’ roll.  With blazing guitar work and a nice drum/bass combo, this is a solid track that fans will adore.

“Sinners & Saints” starts off with a guitar riff that is hauntingly familiar but difficult to place.  Mad Karma has seemingly found their niche with this track and this is their signature sound; clean, melodic, and simply beautiful.  Ron’s vocals are seductive and the lyrics are touchingly candid.  The band does an exceptional job harmonizing the vocals as well, and this is a stand alone piece of music.  “Waiting For You” is another brilliant Mad Karma offering with excellent instrumentation.  This track is musically and lyrically sound, as is the case with virtually every Mad Karma song.  This piece is exceptionally honest and the lyrics will hit home to anyone who has ever cared about another.  Guaranteed to be another fan favorite, “Waiting For You” will be the crowd pleaser that everyone sings along to.

The album glides forth with “Daylight No Good,” which contains some of the best harmonizing yet and the gentlemen of Mad Karma have outdone themselves with this piece.  With a rhythm that will remain in the ears long after the song has ended, this track is not easily forgettable.  The guitar work is jaw-dropping, the vocals are stellar, and this is Mad Karma at their best.  If there was any lingering doubt regarding the talent of this collective, it has been laid to rest forever with this fantastic offering.  “Circle Of Life” is the signature rock song with a standard rhythm and hook.  Listeners might think nothing really stands out about this piece, but they have forgotten that it’s done by Mad Karma and they’ve got their own unique way of making every song special, particularly the short bass solo smack in the middle of the song, and then the way it slows down and changes tempo without missing a beat.  Mad Karma has epitomized the meaning of smooth melodic perfection with this track.

The album closes with “Traditional Loser” and the listener will get a decent idea of what it would be like to see Mad Karma play live.  The vocals have a touch of British influence, something along the lines of Joy Division.  Younger fans might compare it to the post-punk vibe of Interpol.  This piece feels slightly off kilter on this album, mostly due to the different vocal pattern, but it’s a wonderful track nonetheless and it leaves listeners with a sense of yearning to see this band live.  Mad Karma is more than likely one of those rare bands that sounds better playing live than on their studio cuts.  And that’s saying something considering the quality of music on this studio album.  This is a solid production all the way through and Mad Karma are quality musicians with a wide range of talent who have created an album that simply rocks.

Review by Rhonda Readence
Rating:  4 stars (out of 5)