Rob Crow is back on the road earning his paycheck. After dabbling in the dark side with his Death-Metal band Goblin Cock and playing with his good intentioned, yet ultimately inaccessible side project The Ladies, Crow is back with what really gets the kids out to the clubs with Pinback. They succeed by playing emotionally gripping and brilliantly executed indie rock, for lack of a better term. I guess at their roots they're basically a talented emo band, though I expect few of their fans would dare describe them as such. We’ll stick to indie rock for now.
The band, which is led by Crow and Zach Smith, are at their best when the two principals trade vocals back and forth. Rob has a surprisingly smoother and more refined voice of the two, which acts as a stabilizing force to Smith’s slightly off key croon. The imperfections in his voice are not offensive, but rather adds much welcome character to the songs when performed live, not unlike what Charlie Bissell of the Wrens or Kyle Fischer of early Rainer Maria brought to the table for their respective bands. On record, the back and forth of the vocals doesn't come through nearly as effectively, but seeing them work off each other live was the defining element of the show.
The vocals aren’t everything, however. Pinback’s backbone is set by the bands amazingly precise instrumentation. The songs hardly even sound like songs when they start up. A few finger plucks without warning that sound like a guitar warm up. After a few bars, the rest of the band fills in and completes the overall sound. It is almost inhuman to play a guitar like that while singing, but Crow pulls it off without a slip or hesitation. Part of the problem with his aforementioned band The Ladies was that it was all complicated instrumentation, both with his guitar and Zach Hill’s drums. It dominated the songs and never allowed them to develop. Pinback couldn’t execute any more differently. These songs are made for mass appeal, despite the delicate intricacies. Just ask the creators of the OC, who decided to put the song ‘Fortress’ on one of the show’s soundtracks.
The band is playing at Irving Plaza tonight before continuing out on tour through the rest of the month. There are plans to get back to the studio after finishing the trip to record an eagerly anticipated new album due out next year.