Early last year, former Karate vocalist/guitarist Geoff Farina joined forces with Brokeback/Tight Phantomz bassist Pete Croke and ex-Chisel drummer John Dugan to create Exit Verse, a power trio for the 21st century. The band’s recently released self-titled debut is potent proof of the wisdom of pairing Farina’s driving guitar with a rhythm section that can provide him with an expansive yet sturdy foundation, allowing a new and more focused side of Farina’s estimable abilities to emerge.
Karate was on the leading edge of the Indie/Emo/Post Rock wave of the ‘90s but distinguished themselves with a Punk-infused attitude, a penchant for Jazz-like improvisation, an intricate Math Rock element and a careening Post Rock sense of chaotic adventure, all precariously balanced by Farina’s streak of perfectionism.
With Exit Verse, Farina seems content to play with a more straightforward, almost Power Pop vibe while retaining a swaggering swing and a moody classic Rock punch; there are times on the new album where the trio sounds like a cool collaboration between Mitch Easter and Wayne Kramer.
At the same time, it’s hard to ignore the contributions of Croke and Dugan to the sound of Exit Verse. Croke was involved in another sonic reinvention project when he helped transform Brokeback, bassist Douglas McCombs’ busman’s holiday away from Tortoise, from atmospheric Electronic/Jazz to riffmongering Rock on last year’s Brokeback and the Black Rock. And Dugan’s hammering Pop/Punk presence behind Ted Leo in Chisel and his Post Hardcore chops in Edsel have clearly armed him with the subtle (and not-so-subtle) power that Exit Verse exudes on their first album.
Farina certainly exhibits a lot of the qualities that made Karate special in Exit Verse (including that famous perfectionism and a numerological preference for nine-song albums), but he’s also found fresh inspiration in his new bandmates and that inspiration is the engine that drives Exit Verse.
Saturday, Dec. 13. Free. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com.