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CD REVIEW:  Craving Strange - A Llife Exceptional

by: Cyrus Rhodes






Artist/Band: Craving Strange

Album: A Llife Exceptional
Label: Horian Records

Genre: Blues/Rock, Alternative Rock, Psychedelic Hard Rock
Sounds Like: Aerosmith, Poison, Y&T, The Black Crows, Foo Fighters.
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 7/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Here & Gone, Life Exceptional, Break the Skin
Weakness: Band name, Cover art concept, CD title, Snare drum totality, Stuck in the 80's?



A rock and roll band from Amityville, NY mixing the aggressiveness of bands like Guns n Roses with the pop and melodic sense of Foo Fighters? Is it the band with the hilarious video of their remake of Britney Spears' "Hold it against me"? Maybe they’re the band that puts on infectious, energetic live shows; impossible to not get swept up in till you're singing along having as good a time as they are. Their latest CD is entitled ‘A Life Exceptional” and was released in 2014. Band members include: Jimmy G (vocals, guitar), Matt Abbate (Lead Guitar), Jim Tassone (Drums/Percussion), Tommy Balls (Bass).

The CD kicks lifts off the ground nicely with “Dirty Rock” a slamming intro piece that serves up a rocked out groove against effective harmonies, amazing solo guitar and soulful melody from Jimmy G. Track 2 “Your Last Day Alive” keeps thing moving in the right direction with heartfelt vocal delivery from Jimmy G against against a hot to the touch rhythm section and hooky chorus making for an impressive short but sweet, rocked out follow up statement. Track 3 “Here & Gone” is another impressive groove that dishes out full tilt rock rhythm and thought provoking lyrical content that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 amazing songs in a row. The musicianship of everyone involved is above the bar - these guys are a tight 4 piece. I would classify this music as classic R&B, Americana, with brief touches of psychedelic Rock of the early 70’s Rock n’ Roll. Music is reminiscent of classic Aerosmith, Poison, Peter Framption, Y&T, with brief splashes of The Black Crows and even Foo Fighters. Along the way besides power trio standard you will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive solo guitar, and lush harmonies layered everywhere. What I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of writing and rehearsal time no doubt. Now turning our attention over to guitarist/singer Jimmy G. - as for his vocal abilities he’s amazing! His voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively with a timber that is simply infectious. He's got vocal mojo and a solid and soulful vibrato. I suspect some of his vocal influences are Chris Robinson (Black Crows) and Brett Michaels (Poison). I might add he takes some impressive vocal risks indicating to me a confident vocal ability. He’s not a bad guitarist either. I really like his soulful guitar solos and R&B, 80's-esque style playing Abbate which will cause your head to spin. Jimmy G is the quintessential rock star and is clearly the marquee talent within this band. If he wrote all these songs he could be bigger than any of us realize at the moment. All engineering aspect check out. CD possesses crystal clear high end clarity and solid and thick low end frequencies. All songs are extremely well crafted and consistent across the board. This CD from Craving Strange dishes out 13 solid tracks all providing musical enjoyment filled with strong musical variety and diversity. The music has everything you would expect from a rocking musical production. From melodic “A Life Exceptional” to heartfelt “Do You remember” to psychedelic “Break the Skin” to jazzy “Denial” to sizzling “Incomplete” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 13 “Your Last Day Alive (clean version) the perfect finale statement for a CD like this.   

CD contains 2 bonus tracks “Angeline” and “Breathe”  

I’m not crazy about the band name to be honest. The cover art and CD title miss the make for me insofar as concept. I’m not crazy about the snare drum tonality – my ears feel like they’ve been bludgeoned. Some would probably accuse this band as being 'Stuck in the 80's It's a fine line sometimes and Craving Strange is barely over it.

From start to finish this latest CD from Craving Strange is an amazing collection of music. The songwriting – world class, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this fully loaded catalog. The writing and playing abilities of this 4 piece and is rock solid. The melodies and harmonies are well crafted and the lyrical content is packed with luscious tidbits of good old fashioned Blues, Rock n Roll and Alternative Rock layered along the way. Finally the presence of Jimmy G. and the boys are to die for. Be sure to check out Craving Strange website linked above. Craving Strange rock the House!

Cyrus Rhodes