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: Mike Kinsella
Tim Kinsella (vocals), Mike Kinsella (drums), Victor Villareal (guitar) and Sam Zurick (bass) had been making music together in a variety of bands—including emo pioneers Cap’n Jazz—since high school in Chicago when they decided to give it a go officially as Owls. The quartet put out an angular, exploratory self-titled album (stream it below) produced by Steve Albini in 2001. AllMusic said, “Owls may not take over music based on this disc, but it is still a fine achievement and many of the collaborators’ best work in years.” But a year later, the band broke up and the members went their separate ways. And that’s where this story would have ended if they hadn’t reunited in 2012. After a considerable amount of time spent writing and recording, Owls released their second full-length, the aptly titled Two (stream it below) this past March. Again, AllMusic weighs in: “Though they took over a decade to follow up their first album, Two still sounds like a band a decade ahead of its time.” See them tomorrow night at The Bowery Ballroom. Hop Along and Glocca Morra open the show.
Tags: Bowery Ballroom, Cap’n Jazz, Glocca Morra, Hop Along, Mike Kinsella, Owls, Preview, Sam Zurick, Steve Albini, Tim Kinsella, Two, Victor Villareal, Video
Posted in House List, Preview, Video No Comments »
Owen – Mercury Lounge – October 9, 2009
There was something strikingly old fashioned but noticeably modern about Mike Kinsella’s set—performing as Owen—at Mercury Lounge on Friday night. If you closed your eyes and just listened to him and his acoustic guitar, it was easy to imagine that you were at an intimate James Taylor show circa 1970. The packed crowd listened to Kinsella’s simple, personal lyrics sung in a pristinely sweet voice. His set list, merely a suggestion as he took requests from the crowd, was written in pen on his hand, and it smeared while he played.
Between songs, Kinsella bantered about topics like President Obama’s Nobel Prize and Facebook statuses, all the while a girl up front recorded the show on her Flip Video camera. Open your eyes and Kinsella was suddenly just as much Zach Galifianakis as he was James Taylor. For an hour he bounced around from slowly soft songs to upbeat pop tunes, drastically shifting the tuning on his guitar each time. Some of the highlights included “Good Friends, Bad Habits,” and “New Leaves.” By the set’s end, Kinsella had entranced everyone in the crowd, drawing them in with his Taylor-like skills and Galifianakis-like humor. And even when a cell phone interfered with the speakers, Kinsella’s music rang louder. —Sean O’Kane
Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com