Exit Verse – self-titled

Exit Verse - self-titled

Exit Verse – self-titled

Since the 2005 dissolution of post-rock lynchpins Karate singer-guitarist Geoff Farina has ploughed far more bucolic furrows with the bookish pastoral-pop of Glorytellers, as part of a rustic covers-centric duo with Chris Brokaw and as a solo troubadour.  However, after a recent brief stint in Chicago punk-improv outfit Bando, Farina has rediscovered his love for amplification as well as the most rocking and occasionally unhip corners of his ‘70s and ‘80s record collection by forming Exit Verse with bassist Pete Croke and drummer John Dugan.  The first fruits of the group’s labours now arrive in the shape of this eponymous debut.

Cut in both Chicago and Boston with studio support from Andy Hong and guest backing vocals courtesy of Thalia Zedek (Come, Live Skull, E), this opening salvo from Farina and his new accomplices is arguably one of the most gleeful and vibrant records he has released to date.  Revelling in power-trio dynamics and unapologetic vintage-rock influences whilst covertly revisiting some of the spirited angular energy of early-Karate, makes for a 9-track set that successfully regenerates Farina’s muse yet again.

From the Sticky Fingers riffing on the opening “Under The Satellite” inwards, Farina relaxes into his latest guise with breezy ease.  Hence, “Chrome” finds the threesome honouring and subverting drive time rock anthems with affectionately-mocking pedal-to-the-metal lyrics and early-‘70s Bowie guitar shapes; “Seeds” segues back and forth between call-and-response vocals, Radio City-era Big Star boogieing and counterpointing jazz-slanted interludes; “Perfect Hair” and “Fiddle And Flame” nod to both the simplicity of The Ramones and the lugubriousness of The Stranglers; “Pull Out The Nails” pays a slinky homage Thin Lizzy and Dr. Feelgood; and “Sparrows” recalls Neil Young in his most rugged moments with Crazy Horse on the electric half of Rust Never Sleeps.

Despite its openly acknowledged inspirations, this Exit Verse inauguration is prevented from descending into an uncomfortable nostalgia-fest through its up-close ‘live-in-the-studio’ production values, the retention of Farina’s warm intelligence and an infectious ego-less love for the gathered material.  Whilst it’s unlikely to stop fans craving for a Karate reunion, this first Exit Verse LP is a fun and far from throwaway means for Geoff Farina to reconnect with his more plugged-in persona.

Damnably (UK/Europe) / Ernest Jenning Record Co. (US)