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Album cover

Karate

Pockets

Karate couldn’t have planned a better swan song than 2004’s Pockets, and perhaps it helps that the band didn’t intend for the album to be a parting note. For more than a decade, Karate wrestled their fusion of emo, jazz, and subversive rock into magnetic passages at once liquid and unpredictable, rarely crossing the same melodic path twice while growing more confident as players. Pockets made the Boston trio sound like they mastered their peculiar form to such a degree that any wet-behind-the-ears troubadour attempting to try something in the same vein would struggle with living in Karate’s shadow. Pockets exudes a patina of wisdom and grace in the minute silences that bracket Gavin McCarthy’s downtempo drumming at the start of “Alingual,” and in Jeff Goddard’s tender, tip-toeing basslines on “Cacophony,” and in Geoff Farina’s bluesman-like nonchalant guitar solo that cartwheels through “With Age.” Karate harnessed their omnidirectional impulses into emotionally nuanced interplay, lending an unexpected edge-of-your-seat energy to the slyly rhapsodic, ever-shifting closer “Concrete” and the slow-boiling, humid sweep of “Water.” 


Karate’s wildly inventive sound had a home in indie rock, a once stylistically undefinable world big enough to include the scruffy emo scene Karate emerged from in the early ’90s; by the time Pockets dropped, indie-rock began to ossify into a marketable concept set to saturate popular culture by the end of the decade. Karate wouldn’t make it that far. Farina suffered from tinnitus and the band’s live performances took their toll on him; in July 2005, they called it quits after a show in Rome. Karate seemed to end mid-thought, but any band would be blessed to go out on an idea half as good as Pockets.

Track List

  1. Karate // With Age
  2. Karate // Water
  3. Karate //
  4. Karate // Cacophony
  5. Karate // Alingual
  6. Karate // Tow Truck
  7. Karate // Pines
  8. Karate // Concrete