Though Karate called it quits as an entity in 2005 and all the members have gone on to start and cultivate new or different musical projects — Geoff Farina and Gavin McCarthy have the Glorytellers with Jeff Larue, Jeff Goddard is drumming for Cul de Sac, and Farina also has a solo project in the works for Southern — they have decided to release the posthumous live recording, 595, to document their thirteen-year career. And yes, 595, is the recording of the 595th show the band ever played (out of 694). So what was so special about this particular performance?
To answer that semi-rhetorical question, the band members felt that this show was the best representative of their whole catalog, the cream of their performed crop. And they have a point: The album does indeed play like a greatest-hits collection, without being packaged as such. The quality on the tracks is so clear that, until the band starts pattering between some of the tracks, it’s hard to believe they were recorded at a gig in Belgium. In all, this record is a nice artifact capturing the band’s sound in its prime.
Karate’s stop-and-go angular twang is exemplified on standouts “Airport” (from 2002’s Some Boots) and “There Are Ghosts” (from 1998’s This Bed Is in the Ocean). It seems like only a handful of bands that came up through what has now blandly crystallized into what is called “indie” had such prolific and long careers and remained relevant. Karate is one of them, as this record testifies.