Pinback is one of those blue collar bands – the kind that just never stops making consistently good music, like Dinosaur Jr. (minus that whole 10 year gap in between albums thing).
Summer in Abaddon is their third album, and was released in 2004. It follows This is a Pinback CD (1999) and Blue Screen Life (2001). It managed to crack the Billboard Top 200 for the first time in the band’s discography, a few that each of their last two releases have managed to one-up by making it to the top 75 (2007’s Autumn of the Seraphs and 2012’s Information Retrieved).
In addition to five full lengths, the band has a literal slew of EPs (11! and counting) and singles. And because they have so much in their catalogue, and have been around for effectively the entire time I’ve listened to music on my own free will and fruition, this band, like Cursive (and the websites Tiny Mix Tapes and Epitonic – and I want you to know, reader, that I just spent the last 10 minutes looking for the name of that site. It really was that important), played a part in the shaping of my musical interests and tastes.
‘Abaddon’ is a literal translation of the word ‘hell’ (and also a terrible font). So the implication is that spending the summer in hell would be bad, right? But Summer in Abaddon seems to be a pretty decent summer album. If anything, the album is overshadowed by its own reluctance to deviate out of the typical indie music approach.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that the best songs on the album are the ones where Pinback really let loose: like on “Fortress” or the album’s best, “AFK.”
This is another one of those “It all comes flooding back!” albums, especially because of the previously mentioned tracks. For anyone like me, in their early to mid-20s, the term “afk” is deeply rooted in the innumerable hours spent lounging on AOL Instant Messenger, tweaking profile info and claiming any number of absurd and obscene screen names, “just to have them.”
I should mention also that this album came near the tail end of my high school years, but I should reiterate that I was made aware of the band by TMT and Epitonic.
I can’t tell you how much of an impact that those two sites – as well as the bizarre but impossibly good Soma.FM – had on me as a listener being introduced to indie rock. The game has certainly changed in the last decade, and it’s kind of a bummer in a way that there isn’t a singularly influential site like that anymore. MySpace changed the music discovery game, and now it’s a crapshoot of parity.
So if you need one reason to listen to Summer in Abaddon outside of the fact that it’s an enjoyable release to jam this summer in honor of being nearly a decade old, vibe on the good old days of Internet music discovery.
From that album, this is “Syracuse” –
Standout tracks: “Fortress” and “AFK”
Weakest track: “3 X 0”
RIYL: Indie rock, alt-rock, alt-indie. Minus the Bear is the closest in sound, but there’s some Wilco feeling here too.