Crate-Digging Quick Takes: Owen – At Home with Owen

I have a completely-filled 120 GB iPod classic, the record crate of the digital age, containing my entire music library. I’m listening to each release in alphabetical order by record title – kind of a virtual archaeological dig. These are my findings.

(Polyvinyl, 2006)

Welcome to my new one-off Quick Take format. Although it highlights possible laziness (at least until I hit the “C” albums, which is where I originally reset this project), it will make indexing these reviews much easier.

This is the first time I’m listening to this record, and I give it the dreaded “Not Bad” tag. Bwahahaha! I rub my hands together in evil satisfaction, knowing that the faint praise in my review will surely ruin Owen’s career. ’Zounds!

“Owen” is actually Mike Kinsella from Cap’n Jazz (read my column!), Joan of Arc (I had a long, rocky infatuation with them), and American Football. He’s also Tim Kinsella’s seemingly overlooked little brother, a mere twelve years old at the time he joined his big bro’s Cap’n Jazz, and often overshadowed by Tim’s weird, artsy, pretentious, and megalomaniacal (??? – well, I probably wouldn’t want to play in a band with Tim) Joan of Arc tendencies. And although it’s the first time I listened to an Owen record, I used to have an American Football record, so I at least knew what to expect.

The record itself is nice and short, featuring bedroom indie-folk recorded warmly and meticulously (rather than the lo-fi sound you might anticipate). Kinsella has a plain voice, but pleasant. (Ha! Got you again, there, Kinsella.) He weaves arpeggiated  acoustic guitar runs throughout his songs (yes, they sound inspired by his time in Joan of Arc), but their much more easy to digest than the abstract exercises of his brother. The eight songs pass quickly, and a really warm take on the Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale,” complete with fuzzy synthesizer bass that enhances the intimacy, is a classic reinterpretation.

If you had to venture a guess, would you believe this was released on Polyvinyl? Yeah, I would have nailed that too. Or Jade Tree, or something similar. As a charter member of the Midwest’s emo scene, Mike Kinsella and his Owen project fit the style perfectly. And now, my evil inscriptions complete, let’s watch as he fades into oblivion……

(Ah, who am I kidding, he’s released six albums in the past decade.)

RIYL: Pedro the Lion, American Football, Papa M


2 responses to “Crate-Digging Quick Takes: Owen – At Home with Owen

  1. I actually like an Owen album once in a while… also, i knew Owen before I knew American Football so you might call it my initiation into that sound. It does get a bit too pleasant after a while though… The only song I can constantly listen to (from this album) are “A Bird In Hand” and “One of these days” but that’s because I really like the lyrics.


  2. yeah, you know, he’s … not bad! 🙂

    i really don’t have anything against him at all. he’s very pleasant. and that cover of “femme fatale” is really nice. the songs you like are really good too.


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