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Pinback is a California-based indie rock duo comprised of multi-instrumentalists Rob Crow and Armistead Smith. Now, when I say “multi”, what I mean is like 50+ instruments each, but if I type “omni-instrumentalist” I get the red underline of grammatical error and eternal suffering. With origins in the late 90s, Pinback began as a side project between Crow and Smith, whose primary bands eventually dissolved, fell by the wayside or were abducted by aliens. Against all side-project odds, this group cultivated, matured and eventually became a quintessential, defining indie act that remains an absolute staple of the genre today. Crafting with uncanny writing styles that sound almost as though each member wrote then mashed an entire song irrespective of the other, Pinback is intertwined, oscillating and somehow harmoniously combative. Like a musical marriage, they’re constantly talking over and finishing each other’s sentences and acoustic phrases, but what comes of this war is milk and honey. With down-tempo instrumentation, emotionally-driven and often perplexing lyrical content, as well as an unusual knack for the painfully beautiful, Pinback are definitely one of those bands I consider “important”. They’re the melting pot interface between raw talent and truly collaborative creativity – where the listener can appreciate the value of each instrument’s contribution and accentuation.

With 5 LPs, well over 10 EPs and a compilation album, there’s a stunning amount of quality music to discuss, but I’ll stick to my besties. Starting with their amazing 1999 debut, the aptly-titled “This Is A Pinback CD”, this album is classic old-school Pinback, showcasing some of their very best work (try “Loro”: However, it was in Pinback’s sophomoric LP that I believe Crow and Smith found their masterpiece: “Blue Screen Life”, released in 2001 and one of my most listened to albums of all time. It is a music lovers goldmine, a haven of solace and a gift unto the music world containing some of the greatest indie songs ever created. Afterward, Pinback took a turn for the poppier side of things, generating the excellent 2004 “Summer in Abaddon” LP, a solid 30-minute EP called “Offcell” and much, much more.

Favorite track: Concrete Seconds (… Ahhhhhh…

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