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Philip E. Karnats

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Album Review

It's almost startling that the opening track off Philip E Karnats' album was recorded alone in his own basement studio, because there's a cleanness and a sense of structure that aren't often found in this kind of solo, low-budget indie rock release. "Too Much to Chew," with its list of dry statements ("Won't bleed 'cause I can't afford the ER stay/Won't spit it's too dry to be thirsty here/Won't sweat the scent is overwhelming") and droning bass, sounds surprisingly professional and relatively free of the excessive noise and pointless guitar riffs that often accompany similar artists. This is, however, an exception to the rest of Pleasesuite, which, as an entire album, sounds a lot like any other independent recording that anyone with a computer can make. Not that Karnats possesses no skill: as a former guitarist for Tripping Daisy and Bobgoblin, he can hold his own on his instrument (as well as the other ones he plays on the record), and his lyrics are intelligent in that vaguely abstract way ("Ruthless blisters in red rubber shoes/Soaking through to sole and glue," he sings in "Sue Blue"), but it never all quite comes together. Throughout the album, he moves from punk to shoegazer to straightforward indie rock, and is convincing enough in each of them, but Pleasesuite sounds very much like something that a reasonably talented guy who had some free time on his hands, as well as some decent recording equipment, could put together as a kind of self-indulgent project without much regard for possible listener interest. It's just not particularly engaging or unique. There are a few songs in which he seems to regain his focus ("Spinning Lids [On a Holiday Retreat Beach]," "Smoke + Sediment") that remind the audience that Karnats could accomplish something rather noteworthy, but unfortunately Pleasesuite isn't that.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Former member of Dallas bands Bobgoblin and Tripping Daisy (whom he joined on trumpet and guitar in 1997 and for whom he played on Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb), Philip E Karnats was back in his native Chicago when he recorded the songs for Pleasesuite in his studio/apartment between 2004...
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Pleasesuite, Philip E. Karnats
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