I first heard Karate on the once-defunct, now-revived WOXY.com. They were an occasional break from the din of fuzzed-out guitars and nasal, tenor singing. Alongside acts like Wolf Parade and Silver Jews, Karate’s music is positively ethereal. At their best, their songs reside somewhere between portraits and short-stories, free-jazz re-imaginings of early Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits (think Blinded by the Light and Jersey Girl, respectively).
If that all makes no-sense, it’s because I don’t really understand Karate. I tend to be a bit surprised when they come on both by their sound–so different from the rest of the indie-rock landscape–and that I like it so much. Perhaps the best way I can explain it, is that their name fits them perfectly. Their songs evoke the image of a solitary warrior, surveying the city after it has gone to sleep, all too aware of its flaws but, unable to let go of it. It’s a cinematic clichÃ©, to be sure, but it’s also a film I’d enjoy, and for 5 or 6 minutes, it is wonderful to have that feeling conjured.