Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place
You’re Doomed, Be Nice (Temporary Residence)
For a minute there it looked like we weren't going to be hearing any new music from Rob Crow. The singer/songwriter and half of Pinback's core duo, disillusioned with being a professional musician, made a Facebook announcement that he was stepping away from music in mid-2015, thus more or less ending Pinback and any other such projects he might have otherwise gone forward with.
Or so it seemed, anyhow. Crow's hiatus came to an end a few months later, and Pinback played a radio-station sponsored show, though their long-term status still comes punctuated with a question mark. The end of Crow's public retreat from the spotlight also came with the announcement of a new band, Rob Crow's Gloomy Place, and a whole new album ready for release in 2016. That album, You're Doomed, Be Nice, is finally here after a long press campaign to remind listeners that, yes indeed, Crow is playing music again. And after hearing "Fortress" on local radio enough times to take it for granted, it's somewhat refreshing to hear Crow back in the saddle.
Rob Crow's Gloomy Place is a fully fleshed out band rather than simply a clever name for a solo project, and sounds bigger and beefier than anything Crow's done in years. It's reminiscent of any number of past Crow projects, ranging from Heavy Vegetable to Thingy and Goblin Cock, endearingly quirky and accessibly disjointed, with perfectly catchy rock songs being interrupted by abrupt changes in time signature or tempo.
Leadoff track "Oh, the Sadmakers" could be initially mistaken for vintage Heavy Vegetable—its spunky and jagged waltz never fully committing to a steady beat or rhythm for too long. But in the song's final minute, Crow's metal influences shine through in a series of burly thrash riffs. There's a lush orchestral approach to "This Distance," which begins as an eerie acoustic post-rock melody. "Business Interruptus" sounds more or less like Pinback, but it's all the more thrilling when the songs take a turn toward post-hardcore rawness, as on "Light On."
With songs this strong, it's safe to say the break served Crow well. This is his most interesting set of music in years.