Karate High School

Arcade Rock

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With a name like Karate High School, a title like Arcade Rock, and an album cover that looks more like a classic Sony PlayStation game, you certainly don't go into this Bay Area band's debut album expecting much in the way of emotional maturity. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your musical predilections) the quirky quintet doesn't disappoint, offering up an adrenaline-charged effort designed for the angst-riddled, ADHD-addled teen in everyone. Grinding guitar grooves, relentless drumbeats, squiggly synths, alternating sung/shouted vocals, constantly shifting time signatures -- all the usual punk-pop clich├ęs are there on songs like the opening "Good News and Bad News" and "88 Million Light Years Away," which are perfectly arranged to position the band among the next generation of Warped Tour up 'n' comers. It's a soundtrack tailor-made for X Games, testosterone-fueled moshpits, or just surfing MySpace while ticked off at your parents, but there's not much in the way of depth or diversity to be found. When the band does spread its creative wings a bit, on songs like the hip-hop-influenced "Sweep the Leg" (which boasts silly lyrics like "Fear does not exist in my dojo...It's not too late for you to sweep the leg of life"), they at least succeed in being effectively entertaining. But for the most part they're just annoying, like a hyperactive kid brother you wish would just take his Ritalin and go back to zoning out on video games.

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