Pinback, "Information Retrieved" (Temporary Residence Ltd.)
More than half a century after the birth of the rock band, guitarists remain limited to six strings and a dozen notes, so it's tough to carve out a distinctive niche. But Pinback has managed the feat. The San Diego duo sounds like no one else, and therein lies its appeal.
On the group's fifth album, "Information Retrieved," Zach Smith and Rob Crow are up to their familiar tricks, yet somehow sounding fresher than ever. Aside from occasional reminders of R.E.M., the influences are tougher to identify than with most groups.
The 10 songs here are jangly, jittery and full of fascinating interplay. Crow weaves his jagged guitar parts around Crow's tuneful bass lines, while they trade off vocals and sometimes sing in counterpoint. The melodies are hooky, the rhythms tricky and the lyrics quirky.
"Denslow, you've just about had an idea so bad it's actionable," goes one lyric from "Denslow, You Idiot." Distinctive doesn't always mean good.
Check this out: Crow makes even the word "no" sound catchy on "A Request," which shrewdly pairs a dreamy melody with lyrics about dreaming.