NUM907
Album cover

Karate

Some Boots

The three musicians in Karate put together a puzzling thing. A ’90s punk band with an inimitable grasp of jazz, they stood out in a scene that made neophyte musicianship a badge of honor; Karate also helmed an understated mastery of slowcore that could shift the air around listeners and made each band member seem at least a few decades older than their driver’s licenses would indicate. Their stylistic twists and turns eluded definition for years, breeding the kind of talmudic reverence in listeners that’d result in building allegories out of the most minor of details. No doubt Karate superfans tried to find meaning in the number nine—that’s how many songs filled out every album the band issued. But it’s just about the only aspect of the group’s career that could be called routine.

Nine years after recording their very first demo, Karate dropped 2002’s Some Boots, an album whose Frankenstinian indie-rock sort of resembles all the other Karate records that came before it, in so far as the band hardly sounds like the same unit on any of the other LPs even as they carry their sonic touchstones into a new space. Yes, the DNA is there—Jeff Goddard’s fluttery and fluid bass, Gavin McCarthy’s tamed-wilderness drums, and Geoff Farina’s prospecting guitars and cordial vocals. On Some Boots, Karate further plumb the depths of their omnidirectional musical explorations, dolled out in measures equal parts restrained and frenzied. Here’s a band unafraid of making unusual deviations into pleather jazz guitars that spark frisson with syncopated rhythms, a notion so far gone from their punk roots that simultaneously represents the brazen spirit of the scene they came from. Karate sound more at ease in the churning waters of their inventive style on Some Boots than ever before. All the sweat and soul they poured into these complicated twists and turns illuminate the teeniest details of their songs. A skittering drum beat skimming across the midway point of the ever-twisting “In Hundreds” electrifies like a defibrillator paddle, and the gentle shifts in Farina’s lilting voice as he considers the stains of fast-changing seasons on “Corduroy” echo long after the band moves in another direction. Every musical choice works to deepen the pensiveness in Farina’s impressionistic lyrics, and Karate pull off these emotionally complex explorations of the nature of aging because of all the time they spent working together.

Track List

  1. Karate Original Spies
  2. Karate First Release
  3. Karate Ice Or Ground
  4. Karate South
  5. Karate In Hundreds
  6. Karate Airport
  7. Karate Baby Teeth
  8. Karate Corduroy
  9. Karate Remain Relaxed
  • Karate
    Karate
  • Death Kit
    Karate
  • The Bed Is In The Ocean
    Karate