Mike Kinsella (vocals, bass and guitar), Steve Lamos (drums and trumpet) and Steve Holmes (guitar) were just three college kids enjoying the summer when they formed the emo/math-rock band American Football outside of Chicago in 1997. A self-titled EP (stream it below) arrived in 1998, with an acclaimed eponymous full-length (stream it below), filled with uncommon time signatures and jazz-influenced chords, released the following year. But then that was pretty much it, with each member going off to do his own thing afterward. And that’s where this story would end if the influential American Football (above, performing “Born to Lose” live in studio for WNYC FM) hadn’t reunited—with the addition of Mike’s cousin Nate Kinsella (bass)—in 2014 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of their LP, which was rereleased with bonus tracks and demo recordings. According to Paste magazine, “The album serves as what indie rock should be about, synthesizing the musical world around us, not dividing and separating,” and per the A.V. Club: “American Football proved that a brief existence doesn’t preclude a band from casting a long shadow.” Things went so well that the band put out another crowd-pleasing full-length named—you guessed it—American Football (stream it below) last fall. “While the record is rooted in nostalgia, so much so the cover features the same iconic house as their debut, it also manages to feel fresh and tentatively exciting, something that’s a result of the band exploring new ideas or looking at old ones from different perspectives,” said Drowned in Sound in a rave review. “Time has only strengthened the chemistry of the band, distilling its essence in to something much purer than its base product. In a year of excellent records, American Football have quite possibly made the best.” See them live at Brooklyn Steel on Sunday night. Land of Talk and Pure Bathing Culture open the show.
Tag Archives: Land of Talk
Surprise Me Mr. Davis/Land of Talk – Mercury Lounge – November 21, 2009
Remember when NASA smashed a rocket into the moon in the hopes of finding water? Saturday night at Mercury Lounge, the same kind of counterintuitive cosmic alchemy was on display. First up, Surprise Me Mr. Davis, a project featuring folk singer-songwriter Nathan Moore as the projectile with jam-pop stalwarts the Slip serving as the lunar mass.
The explosion resulted in unexpected chemistry, high energy and genre-bending fun. Early on, “When a Woman Cuts Your Hair” set the north-meets-south tone with Moore offering sweet, provocative songwriting and the Slip guys—Andrew and Brad Barr on drums and guitar and Marc Freidman on bass—wrapping it all up with tight, constructed playing. The set gave the sold-out crowd plenty of reason to dance or sing along or just hang back and listen. Occasional instrumental forays, powerful harmonies and some real live magic-trick high jinks from Moore proved that there was more to this hunk of rock than first met the eye. Closing with a raging “Sisyphus” an hour into the set, the band seemed like they were just warming up, ready for at least 60 minutes more, but alas, they ceded the stage following a touching a cappella end.
Without the usual crowd flip you find between sets at the Merc, the room stayed at capacity for Land of Talk. Here Andrew Barr stayed behind the drums, acting as the rocket colliding with some addictive Canadian rock. Frontwoman Elizabeth Powell was a revelation, leading the band through one raging song after another. Barr continued to show he’s one of the best drummers out there, elevating good music to greatness—revealing the water hidden beneath the surface and plenty of signs of life. —A. Stein