Karate 
Some Boots
/secret stars; 2002/

rating : 7

 

 




more info :

www.secretstars.com

Well, this is Karate's new release, just a few months after Cancel/Sing, their latest ep. This record contained two songs (around 12 minutes each) which mostly sounded like two improvisations. Some Boots is also made of quite long songs on the whole : a lot of them are nearly 7 minutes long. If you have only listened to Karate's first album, you might be... disappointed, lost, surprised or stunned (who said "shocked" and "disgusted" ?). Karate are not playing emocore songs the way they used to. There is still an "emo" feeling. In the lyrics first. I tend to think that Geoff Farina has always written good lyrics. It seems to me that the way the words sound is very important to him. Example : There are Ghosts on The Bed is in the Ocean

"And there are that famous sound that the snow makes under my feet when a snowfall too cold for a snowfall falls and saves me from my impending week"

There are many beautiful sentences in this new record : 

"Will strange new days, striated with strain contain your relocated slang and those incredible eyes ?" -Original Spies

"With trusty foresight will the sun still rise ?" -Original Spies

"Now I don't worry too much about what I really have to lose, because I'd surely give it all up if I could get some time with you" -In Hundreds

"About your recent investment plan, it smells like 50 $ stuffed into a ziplock bag" -Remain Relaxed

Secondly, the lyrics are emphasized by Geoff Farina's singing. The voice. This sweet, sometimes cold, thrilling voice. This is one of the good points which endure on every Karate record. If you like the way Geoff Farina sings, then it can be the only reason to buy this record.

As far as music goes, well... the style has changed since In Place of a Real Insight but it really occurred on their third and fourth albums. If you know a little about these records you are familiar with Karate's blend of music styles. Each song has a rock/pop/soul/bluesy/groovy/funky/jazzy feeling. It is obvious that the three musicians are influenced by a whole range of different types of music. Here is where the problem lies. Sometimes I wonder what I am really listening to. One of my friends (a very talented rock critic) told me that he felt like being in an elevator when he listened to this record. Karate playing easy listening ? anyway... This is due to the fact that Geoff Farina plays more and more solos. Fortunately they are not too long, they are never 15 minutes long, the 70s are fortunately long gone. But anyway, one can find them really old-fashioned, out-fashioned or even very boring. Moreover, the guitar effects are sometimes quite ridiculous for 21st century music. I don't really know. I still think that all of Karate's members are very good musicians. The rhythmic section is incredible and it functions very well as a caterpillar machine. And, in my opinion, Geoff Farina sometimes plays very good solos and musical phrases. His Jazz-rock can be very efficient, like in the first minutes of In Hundreds, but there are still superb ballads, one of Karate's trademarks. Maybe the most accomplished song as far as the mixing of genres and the influence of jazz music go is Remain Relaxed, the closing track. It is a slow and very beautiful ballad with a clean guitar sound played with brushes and filled with nice lyrics.

To conclude I would say that my judgment is obviously biased but I think that we must admit that it is quite rare when a band tries to do something else and changes the way its music sounds by adding new influences. I am not saying that Karate is the only band which evolves. Some bands have been playing the same music for ages and still do it very well. Some Boots is a good record and Karate is able to do even better as an emocore jazzy rock band.

Sorry, this was my very first review.   

-Horace de Tupolev

/oct  1st 2002/