I might be the only person on the face of the planet to say this, but I think that Karate was a lot better before they became obsessed with jazz and started putting out soulful records. Their self-titled debut is one of my all time favorite records; and while it was way more rock than the stuff that they’re playing now, it did offer hints at what would eventually become of these guys.
What has become of them, most people will say, is that they are a better band, one that showcases an incredible cast of very talented musicians. The guitars are intricate, jazzy and very warm in tone. The drums are lightly hit, yet they get the job done. The bass is just as artfully played as the guitars, and every bit as jazzy. But what really makes, and always has made, Karate’s sound is vocalist Geoff Farina’s unique and inviting voice.
Karate doesn’t suck now. It’s just that I like their old stuff better. Pockets does have some memorable songs. “Cacophony” reminds me a lot of the band’s younger days, as it features mildly distorted guitars, a triumphant guitar line and Farina is at the top of his game on this track. “Tow Truck” is another mildly rockin’ song, soaked with sassiness and swagger. It’s a fun little toe-tapper, complete with a blazing guitar solo (like many of the tracks on Pockets). The bottom line is that Karate is still an incredible and unique band, and Pockets shows that they are continuing to improve their craft with each successive release. I guess I’m just living in the past when I whine about the good old days.