Rob Crow’s most recognized personality is as co-frontman of the finely-tuned math-pop masters Pinback. But this seemingly schizophrenic artist needs a lot of outlets: His latest, the semi-joking (maybe) doom metal outfit Goblin Cock. Crow’s new venture is no small commitment and comes complete with alter egos (Crow goes as Lord Phallus), a music video featuring the band draped in black cloaks, and song titles full of D&D quirk. The album’s title is rooted in geekdom, referring to a comic book that comes “bagged and boarded” to keep it immalleable. Alter egos, comic book references, and cover art that makes Frank Kozik’s work seem Rockwell-esque: The theme-rock warning sirens should be piercing your ear drums about now.
Packaging aside, it’s the music that’s the true mystery. After the first few tracks you might think you’ve got it: Crow singing over fuzzy, sludgy guitars, crashing drums with the occasional double-kick bass and timing signatures reminiscent of Pinback’s work. (Not a bad recipe, right?) But after the fifth and sixth tracks, hope begins to fade: Bagged and Boarded enters the realm of musical confusion. The biggest problem is that irony and earnestness run neck and neck throughout this release, each taking a turn in the lead but ultimately coming to an unsatisfying tie at the end. And that’s just it: If you’re going to do a theme record, go for it with gusto. The fence-sitting buries this collection.
Goblin Cock’s debut disc does have its moments, including “Childproof,” which holds some of the creepiest samples this side of Aphex Twin, taking bits from a sex-education video that vilifies masturbation with some strangely homoerotic fatherly advice. Another highlight is the curiously titled “Ichiro’s Dilemma,” which actually seems to have something to do with the Japanese baseball player. Why Ichiro is a muse for Crow isn’t quite apparent, but the song moves along nicely with monstrous guitars provided by Bane Ass-Pounder (seriously) and a tight pace set by drummer Braindeath. The album’s inherent campiness comes out in full force on “The Revenge of Snufalufagus,” thanks to the first King Diamond-evoking high-pitched metal screams that would have done well to more densely populate this release.
This record, along with the many other non-Pinback offerings by Crow, gives me the sense that his Pinback bandmate, Armistead Burwell Smith IV, is a source of sanity and lucidity for the mad genius boiling inside of Crow. Rob’s other offerings – Optigonally Yours, Thingy, Physics, Holy Smokes and his Rob Crow release – are all interesting enough, but nearly the whole lot lack the direction of anything Pinback has released. Bagged and Boarded is not without its charms, but after owning it for a few weeks you’ll probably need to pass it over during your next apartment Swiffering.
“Stumped” MP3: http://www.absolutelykosher.com/musicfiles/Stumped.mp3
“Stumped” video: http://www.wormwoodfilms.com/movies/goblin_cock_2.mpg
Goblin Cock on Absolutely Kosher’s Web site: http://www.absolutelykosher.com/goblincock.html