Post-Slint, post-Fugazi and decidedly postcollegiate, cerebral Boston trio Karate spent their first few albums squeezing the last few drops of inspiration out of the quiet-verse, loud-chorus, quiet-verse, loud-chorus formula. Although this made them a dynamic and exciting live act, the loud parts never sounded altogether convincing on record, as if, in their hearts, they were a bit uncomfortable disturbing the neighbors with all the ruckus. On their newest album, Unsolved
(Southern Records), they've more or less eliminated the problem by more or less eliminating the loud parts. What's left is a quietly compelling collection of songs that have an almost jazzy feel to them, with guitarist Geoff Farina in particular sounding like a post-punk Wes Montgomery in both tone and style. Whereas many of Karate's peers use the notion of "playing jazz" as an excuse for excess, though, Karate exercise a restraint that keeps things tense and interesting; even the longer cuts on "Unsolved" never stoop to pointless noodling. Those seeking a sweaty night in the pit, then, are advised to steer clear of this show, but anyone interested in a night of well-written, artfully played songs from the quieter fringes of punk will find Karate a perfect cure for the Thanksgiving blahs. St. Louis' own skilled purveyors of deliberate rock, Potomac Accord, open. Featuring former members of quiet experimentalists Cap Au Gris and Thee Noble Gases UK, the piano/bass/drum trio has built an appropriately quiet buzz after only a handful of shows.