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Alternative & Indie - Released June 19, 2020 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 28, 2014 | Polyvinyl Records

Mike Kinsella's softer side has come out as gentle, sadly poetic offerings from his Owen project, an acoustic foil for his more electrified work over the years in Cap'n Jazz, American Football, Owls, and other far less subdued bands. The stark honesty of Kinsella's lyrics and presentation in Owen is a huge part of what has made it one of his most popular projects. It often feels as though he's confessing the darker, more hidden parts of his life directly to the listener, and it's an incredibly personal feeling. It's odd, then, that Kinsella delivers the same sense of warmth and intimacy throughout Other People's Songs, a collection of eight cover tunes. The playlist reads like a young skater's mixtape from the late '90s, with acoustic renditions of songs by discordant sermon-sayers Lungfish, bummed-out college rockers the Blake Babies, and mellowed-out takes on pop-punkers such as All and the Smoking Popes. Translating youthful ebullience into somber beauty is no small task, but it turns out to be Owen's specialty throughout Other People's Songs. Kinsella's reedy vocals are joined at times by those of angelic singer Sarah Mitchell, resulting in a fairly straightforward reading of the Blake Babies' noisy "Girl in a Box" and a stunning duet on a complete reworking of Against Me!'s "Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart." Originally a tightly wound emo pop blast with vocals shared by Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace and Tegan Rain Quin from Tegan and Sara, Kinsella and Mitchell recast the tune as a gorgeous, relaxed picture of fingerpicked guitars and cozy string arrangements filling in for distorted guitars. Like the best of any collections of covers, Other People's Songs offers a completely unexpected perspective and at the same time makes us want to revisit the original versions and investigate the differences. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

This self-titled release is comprised of nine songs recorded at Mike Kinsella's own home studio, using his own equipment. Kinsella also performed all the music, did all the mixing, and recorded the whole thing. Despite what many might think, it all sounds very good. Musically, this release finds Kinsella extending where American Football (his former project) was headed. Many of the guitar parts are reminiscent of the delicate tones that short-lived act displayed, and Kinsella's voice is patterned in the same generous emotional helpings. And in that regard, his voice is the carrier of the infectiously morose tales which only a Kinsella is capable of weaving. Carrying the bulk of the weight of a project via his vocals doesn't seem to phase him, however, as they are pulled off in a stellar manner and sound just as good, if not better than the American Football albums. Kinsella fans and specifically American Football fans will appreciate this, but beyond that, Owen has a wider appeal to fans of the singer/songwriter genre in general. © Kurt Morris /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 22, 2016 | Polyvinyl Records

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Pop/Rock - Released November 7, 2006 | Polyvinyl Records

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Pop/Rock - Released November 7, 2011 | Polyvinyl Records

Emo troubadour Mike Kinsella (best known for his work with bands like Cap’n Jazz and American Football) returns for the sixth installment of his solo project Owen with Ghost Town, a record that recalls the lyrical style of his earlier work as Owen while integrating new sonic elements into the mix. That is, where 2006’s At Home with Owen and 2009’s New Leaves took a more positive-minded perspective, reflecting on his then recent marriage and birth of his daughter, Ghost Town returns to his brooding roots, digging into the darker, more contemplative corners of his heart. And in contrast to his Owen past, Ghost Town introduces string instrumentation and folk-inspired arrangements on many of its tracks, immediately setting it apart from his previous solo efforts and lending a sound that’s fuller as well as more universal. Tracks like opener “Too Many Moons” and “The Armoire” ease in listeners, offering the fingerpicked acoustic guitar and plaintive lyricism that’s marked Owen records, giving way to lusher pieces like the ode to his daughter “O, Evelyn...” and “An Animal,” where Kinsella’s guitar plays cat-and-mouse with violin. But the biggest surprise of Ghost Town arrives with its closing track, “Everyone’s Asleep in the House But Me,” which wonders what to do while the rest of the world sleeps. It opens with a whisper, slowly growing with the addition of xylophone twinkles, hints of crackling guitar, and melancholic female backing vocals, and as the lyrics wrap with “But I’m killing time in a ghost town...This is what it’s like to be dead and leave behind more than a stain in the carpet,” a minute-long outro lets a fuzzy electric guitar roar, as restless as the sleep-deprived narrator. Kinsella’s tried-and-true delicately delivered cynicism combined with a new approach to instrumentation is refreshing after all these years. © Chrysta Cherrie /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 6, 2009 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 21, 2009 | Polyvinyl Records

On 2009's New Leaves, Mike Kinsella uses his solo project Owen to explore unintentional maturing, shifting comfort zones, and -- could it be? -- romantic contentment, if still unassured. Now married and a father, Kinsella's characteristically direct and witty observations and self-analyses examine this new stage of his life: his thirties. Introspective and revelatory throughout, in "Good Friends, Bad Habits" he admits "Sometimes/Like every time a train passes/I get jealous of the long nights/The blurred lights/The red eyes/The bar fights," before reckoning "Sometimes/Like every time she breathes/I embrace my routine." On "Never Been Born," he shares the intimate "The way your skin sticks to your ribs/The way my hips fit in your hips/I'm 18 again/Dependent like an infant/Content like I've never been." While Kinsella is still grappling, world-weary, and utterly relatable to the likewise pensive and uneasy, those who have settled into couplehood may especially connect with this collection. Musically, the arrangements are complex but understated, utilizing drums, strings, keyboards, piano, even xylophone and other melodic percussion voices over his base of guitars. "A Trenchant Critique" features rhythmic interplay between guitar fingerpicking and percussion, with strings and bass providing an overarching, almost sentimental flow to the song's flashes of memory and self-evaluation. "Never Been Born" develops into an orchestral interlude, an electric and acoustic web of droning sounds with tinkling acoustic guitar and bells. The sweet "Amnesia and Me" lays sustained strings over catchy strummed guitars and a driving rhythm section that propel momentum forward as he sings of forgetting the past. He still wields a few odd meters and time-signature changes, as in the serene, fluttering "Brown Hair in a Bird's Nest," but all gracefully arranged. Acknowledging a few somewhat graphic descriptions and swears, New Leaves is a pretty-sounding work, with relatively sophisticated and balanced sounds supporting the unusually, for Owen, romantic lyrics. On the whole, the album comes off as a good place for Kinsella; still uncertain -- "Curtain Call" complains about playing shows -- but like taking a breath and trying to enjoy the view after climbing a hill and realizing "Now I know who I am/A housebroken one-woman man." He sounds OK with it, and the music does, too. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 9, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

Mike Kinsella continues as Owen on his third full-length, I Do Perceive, out on Polyvinyl. Kinsella constructs sensitive, emotional music, showcasing nice hooks and skillful guitar picking against electronic and acoustic drumbeats. Whispery vocals crack from exhaustion throughout I Do Perceive -- dramatic words weigh physically on Owen to the point where Kinsella can barely get anything out. The music is in the emo-indie rock camp with the likes of Pedro the Lion and Dashboard Confessional, songs of relationships and longing with melodramatics included. Kinsella is most successful when he changes up the structure and instrumentation within a song. "That Tattoo Isn't Funny Anymore" and "Bed Abuse" are standout tracks with interesting time changes and lush switches from solo acoustic guitar to full band atmospherics. I Do Perceive is more of the same from Owen -- a decent, melancholy release that stands up with others from his discography. © David Serra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

Picking up where his self-titled debut left off, No Good for No One Now is Mike Kinsella's second album under the Owen moniker. The seven tunes lay out on the table for all to see Kinsella's self-deprecation in the tenderest form: an album dedicated to his feelings of worthlessness and frustration about a lost relation. With song titles such as "Nobody's Nothing" and "The Ghost of What Should've Been," it's quite clear that Kinsella's not letting anyone in for 40 minutes of upbeat joy. Rather, displaying raw honesty that parallels some of the better Red House Painters or Mark Kozelek moments, Kinsella takes the listener through song after song of the one that got away. "Poor Souls" talks of lonely nights in a bar looking for that perfect one, but instead heading home alone. "Everyone Feels Like You" serves as a reminder that indeed, there are others out there with the same broken heart as yours, so the best thing to do is to get together, have some drinks, and realize that you're all in this together. The epic final tune, "Take Care of Yourself," is a ten-minute-long song in which the singer recognizes his failures in the relationship and makes a plea for his ex-girlfriend to stay. The tunes are all gently woven with sensitive acoustic guitar and light drums. Throughout the majority of the song "Good Deeds," the guitar is played with harp-like delicacy, creating a heavenly atmosphere more elegant than anything else displayed on the album. For the rest of the songs, everything is kept simple, as it's the vocals and the lyrics behind them that are meant to be the focus of the album. Mike Kinsella may not be as well known as his older brother, Tim Kinsella (Joan of Arc, Owls, Cap'n Jazz), but it's quite irrelevant since Mike is creating beautifully introspective music in his own right. No Good for No One Now is no doubt another big step down the path to success for Owen. © Kurt Morris /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released April 16, 2011 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 7, 2020 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 7, 2006 | Polyvinyl Records

Owen is Mike Kinsella, who is associated with such Chicago indie rock phenoms as American Football, Cap'n Jazz, and Joan of Arc. On his own, he creates dreamy, new-millennium bedroom folk dotted with all kinds of modernistic and ancient traces, such as loops, cello, piano, and sparse percussion. Kinsella is the sole auteur here, whipping up an album that sometimes leans toward such ruminative, creative songwriters as Mark Kozelek and Elliott Smith. Kinsella's pretty dirges don't come off as lo-fi, though; in fact, there is a surprising depth of layered textures here, in which acoustic guitar and other ephemera provide an expansive bed for Kinsella's often homely yet pleasing hush of a voice. The instrumentation in "One of These Days" has a bucolic richness, fleshed out with spare piano plunkings and cello, while the excellent "Sad Waltzes of Pietro Crespi" pins nimble acoustic guitar runs against Kinsella's plaintive musings on love. At Home with Owen has a contemplative, Sunday morning feel to it; it is a strong effort in which themes of yearning and wishful thinking pass dreamily across lovely musical textures, like rain on a windshield. © Erik Hage /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released September 27, 2010 | Polyvinyl Records

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released March 19, 2019 | MKIT RAIN Corp.

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Reggae - Released March 6, 2012 | Attack

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 14, 2019 | MKIT RAIN Corp.

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released March 14, 2016 | MKIT RAIN Corp.

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released May 8, 2020 | Owen

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Rock - Released October 20, 2009 | Evil Penguin Records