Karate, the band Geoff Farina fronted from 1993-2005, were one of the most fascinating, hardest-to-define acts of their era. The Boston trio’s adventurous composite of indie rock, emo, post-rock, jazz, and more birthed a strong discography and won them a small but fervent fan base. Ever since that band’s dispersal, Farina has been busy: He’s played in the acoustic band Glorytellers, the Roman folk band Ardecore, and the Chicago improv trio Bando, plus backed up Chris Brokaw (Come, Codeine, Liz Phair) and recorded a solo album under his own name. He’s also taught music history at a number of colleges around the US. Now Farina is indulging his love of loud guitars for the first time in a decade by way of a new Chicago-based trio called Exit Verse.
The group originally teamed Farina with drummer John Dugan (Chisel, Edsel) and bassist Pete Croke (Brokeback, Tight Phantoms), though after playing on Exit Verse’s self-titled debut album, Dugan left and was replaced by Chris Dye (Speck Mountain, Chin Up Chin Up). The LP they came up with includes the most aggressive music Farina has released since Karate broke up, which means it’s the closest he’s come to his most famous project’s essence. Yet despite adopting some of the slinky, angular elements of Farina’s older work, Exit Verse more often deals with straightforward rock ‘n’ roll sounds captured in bright, minimal arrangements. “Perfect Hair” is a fine microcosm of the sound: The song charges ahead full-bore without much more than chugging chords and relentless rhythm, but it’s punctuated by flourishes of flashy noodling. The resulting album is like Karate crossed with classic rock, and it’s well worth a listen. Stream Exit Verse in full below.