Growing up in San Diego means a few things: pilgrimages to Hillcrest to score hard to find loot and see indie films; underage supermodel caliber flesh a plenty; disappointing sports teams; and Pinback. Over the past few years it has become an undeniable truth that Pinback has grown into an indie phenomenon within the limits of this sunny burg; but this trend is not without merit. Over their past two full length albums Pinback has proven their worth with mind blowing bass and guitar rifts in a rhythm that is hypnotic while still maintaining the ability to overwhelm the listener with an electric-like excitement. Pinback’s appeal is pretty much on a universal level around these parts.
Like the mastery of Hitchcock films or the quality of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Pinback is not discussed in terms of good or bad. Rather, discussions tend to lean towards whether you have heard the new single or if you know when the next show is. When jocks and cheerleaders started showing up at The Ché Café (the San Diego music Mecca to us arrogantly self proclaimed “indie” kids) to see Pinback front man Rob Crow’s other bands like Optiganally Yours or Thingy, everyone knew something was up. Hell, even my parents have both been to Pinback shows. It appears that San Diego has a little secret that the rest of the world should be lucky enough to get in on and this latest EP does nothing to contradict that.
The question is; where does a band go after releasing two successful albums of similar styles? A group has two choices here. One — you can go the way of Tool and not change a damn thing about any of your music on album after boring album. Or Two — you can go the way of Pinback with Offcell and try to push your style to grow musically. However, Pinback seems to be pulling parts of their new growth off of other bands that the respective members are part of.
Offcell starts on a strong note with two enjoyable tracks in a traditional Pinback style. Hints of bass player Zack’s other group Three Mile Pilot can be heard here, but the same could be said for all of Pinback’s recordings. After which, comes the third track for which the album is named, “Offcell,” which displays the start of the band’s departure. This track begins with an awkward electric drum beat that sounds strait out of Crow’s Optiganally Yours. The working bass that steamrolls through your head does a lot for the song but does not cover up the fun zaniness that Rob Crow usually pulls off in his other musical ventures.
The fourth track, “B,” provides a highly energetic upbeat note to the recording yet sounds like something that borrowed much from Crow’s bands Heavy Vegetable or Thingy. The final track “Grey Machine” almost seems to be taking a nod from Philip Glass but finishes the recording nicely. The strangest parts of this EP are the bizarre and slightly out of place song interludes that sound like not much more than experimentation and act as not always smooth transitions between songs.
Pinback remains one of the strongest and most unique indie bands out there. This is a really great offering by the group which hints at interesting things to come in the upcoming full length album.
Death Cab for Cutie – Forbidden Love E.P.
Shins – Oh, Inverted World
Three Mile Pilot – Another Desert, Another Sea