Rob Crow My Room Is A Mess

Rob Crow is simply one of the best pop songwriters to emerge out of the American indie-rock boom of the ’90s. He’s also one of the most prolific recording artists working today and could easily give Robert Pollard a run for his release schedule. The only reason you may not have heard of him is that he has taken one of the most circuitous routes to recognition, simultaneously fronting multiple bands over the past ten years, which brings us to this solo release — his third, and first in seven years. From making an initial impact in 1994 with the exhilarating high tempo punch of the pop band Heavy Vegetable, he reformed the core of the group as Thingy and apparently the next phase of the band will run under the moniker Advertising. During this time Crow has also fronted the esoteric keyboard outfit Optiganally Yours, which will be releasing their third full-length in ’04, and is also working on his third full-length album for his best known outfit, art-rockers Pinback. Add to this his work with the experimental band Physics, the hardcore group Alpha Males and the Sabbath-driven Goblin Cock. Every one of Crow’s band projects connects his songwriting with at least one significant musical collaborator, be it a vocalist, instrumentalist or another songwriter. On My Room Is A Mess we get pure home-recorded Crow. And surprising to nobody is how well his personal style is fully manifested in every one of his other groups. The album mostly showcases his beautifully melodic songwriting, using unique harmonic progressions while creating rhythmically complex structures that often throw pop songwriting convention out the window. Crow gives us a sampling of his tastes for diversity right off the top. Kicking off with a beat box soul harmony reminiscent of Green Gartside (remember Scritti Politti?) and maintaining the mellow tones as he segues into the beautiful acoustic "Beyond Him,” he drops the bomb with the supremely metallic "Jedi Outcast” complete with speedy guitars, thundering bass and cookie-monster vocals, which proves only to be a brief diversion from some more sweet acoustic, yet challenging pop strumming. Maybe he just had to get it off his chest. Which, in fact, seems to be his modus operandi — another catharsis giving way to another great album. (Absolutely Kosher)