Karate – Some Boots

Karate
Some Boots

Geoff Farina, singer and guitarist for the band Karate, is a modern day beat poet, slickly spinning his stream-of-consciousness lyrics over jazz guitar and backed by a light but impeccably tight rhythm section. This is what makes each and every Karate album a brilliant piece of work. So unlike anything else available today, Farina and company blend genres effortlessly yet still maintain firmly in touch with their indie-rock roots.
No more or less accessible than any of their previous releases, if anything Some Boots shows a band that’s growing more confident in their style. The songs are longer, more jamming, while Farina’s free-flowing guitar is given the range to spiral and flow. The lyrics weave nicely around the often shimmering guitar and tight rhythm, and the overall effect is one of intellectually stimulating yet soothing rock.
The opener, “Original Spies,” can already be a classic Karate song. At times, the guitar blares a bit loudly, but the beat is up-tempo, the guitar loud and strong, the vocals intricate and perfect. Even longer than its predecessor, “First Release” picks up on the jamming guitar lines, very electric to the point that it almost buzzes, while the percussion flows more intrinsically into the tune. The more laid-back “Ice or Ground?” has more of a free-jazz feel, especially evident in the brush drums and more relaxed guitar lines. The band gets quieter, more subtle on the moody “South” and then “In Hundreds” gets more up-tempo, led by more intricate and mathy percussion than the band usually lays out.
As the percussion led that song, the bass takes a prevalent role on “Airport,” giving the song something more of a groove that works well with Farina’s singing style. “Baby Teeth” is rather start-stop, a tad more herky-jerky in rhythm, but it adds to the more urgent feel of the song and Farina’s vocals that are almost spat out at times. The eight-plus minute “Corduroy,” not included on the 2xLP version of Some Boots, is a relaxed, softer tune, with gentle, melodic guitar and an almost ballad-like quality. And finally, the shortest track, “Remain Relaxed,” closes the album quieter, relaxed as its name suggests.
Farina has a similar sound on his solo albums, but with Karate, he’s a bit more restrained, a bit more tied to the rhythm his bandmates produce, and thus Karate remains his best project. The music here is incredible, flowing, jazzy, airy, and soothing. Like their last album, this will invariably find a place on my best of the year list. Fans of Karate or new fans of lighter, jazzier indie-rock will be immensely pleased.