Karate was an American band, formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1993 by Geoff Farina, Eamonn Vitt and Gavin McCarthy. In 1995, Jeff Goddard joined the band as bass player, and Vitt moved to second guitar. Vitt departed Karate in 1997. The band was characterised by their love for improvised music and classic rock and their adherence to the DIY punk ethos of their youth, which made them difficult to classify, being a strange fusion of indie rock, punk, blues, jazz and post-rock.
Pockets continued the project of lacing shrewd rock songwriting with quirky, soulful rhythms that the band introduced with Unsolved. This time around the songs are more concise and the tempos quicker, but Pockets also has its contemplative moments. Case in point is “Water,” the song from which the recording’s title comes, one that begins with a century-old blues progression and gently meanders into the 8th-note strumming style of the Secret Stars, Farina’s other (early-90s) band. While the sparse and trudging “Alingual” sounds straight off one of Karate’s early singles, the densely textured “Cacophony” and “Concrete” feature the gritty guitar work of Chris Brokaw (Consonant, Pullman, Steve Wynn, Come, Codeine).
Lyrically Pockets is full of stories that make no differentiation between the personal and political: “The State I’m In” aka “Goode Buy From Cobbs Creek Park” chronicles Farina’s surreal experiences growing up central Pennsylvania in the early 1980’s, hanging out at a local mall that overlooked the prison that held Mumia Abu-Jamal, and seeing Philadelphia mayor Wilson Goode bomb the MOVE headquarters in the city’s Cobbs Creek Park region. Likewise “Tow Truck” tells of a tow truck driver who lives in fear of losing his job to immigrants, and “Cacophony” of two people who find justification for excess and solace from the world’s problems in the American media’s comfortable euphemisms. Together these songs provide a uniquely personal view of the types of political issues that we have all encountered.