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At Home With Owen

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Customer Reviews

At home, but too comfortable

Owen's Mike Kinsella has gone from being disarmingly avant garde to disappointingly predictable. "At Home With Owen" demonstrates that Kinsella has found a formula, but instead of being the acoustic mad scientist we’ve known, he's playing it safe and risking explosions. The elements are all present: the slow fade in of multi-tracked arpeggiated noodling, the breathy vocals stretched to almost synth pad proportions, the ornamentation of keys and bells, the sudden shifts to distorted fretwork. All these characteristics compose a sound that is unmistakably Kinsella, but quirky risks are absent. Identity crisis has worked to much success in Owen's past. His most successful effort, the restrained but impressive 2004 EP, saw shifts from effective indie rock to alt-country, plaintive shoegaze to solo balladeering. That record sang with the distinct mark of Owen without sinking to stagnation. Here, Kinsella settles for too much of a good thing. The compositions remain as intricate as ever, but the surprise factor has all but disappeared. The accompaniment drops leaving acappella voices right where you’d expect; the amps plug in at the anticipated moment; the fluttery drums scatter across the verses in just the way you’d imagine. At certain points, the instrumentation even sags to a shamble. “Bag of Bones” tries its hand at a springy pop step, but the guitars never seem to coalesce. The seven-and-a-half minute “A Bird in Hand” wanders aimlessly. The most effective tune, the succinct “One of These Days,” succeeds by cutting straight to the point and simplifying when and where necessary, cueing strings and tinkling keys at the right moment and holding back for the rest. That track lacks most where the entire album also finds fault, which is in the lyrics. Kinsella himself complains in “Windows and Doorways” that “this was a lot more fun when the music meant something to someone,” which hints at the lyrical apathy Kinsella is suffering from. Topics ring familiar, from the ever-present relationship laments to the alcoholic haze of nights spent on barstools. Kinsella has begun to repeat himself with criticisms of the clichéd, pleas to whomever may be leaving his bed, and allusions to his sweet bike and extended family of bartenders. Owen neophytes might be impressed by this collection of eight songs, but the seasoned vet of sleepless nights soundtracked by Kinsella’s previous albums will surely be bored and retreat to past LPs that experimented more successfully and effected more poignantly. Hopefully Kinsella will deliver a more startling and poetic love letter with his next effort and push the envelope instead of hiding in it.


Some of the most brilliant composition's of music i've ever heard... it's just simply beautiful


This album retains all that is good about typical Owen, but with a much more mature feel. Owen sings all about life in a fresh and entertaining way. His beautiful lyrics are accompanied by stunning music. This is an excellent album.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Owen is Mike Kinsella, who's known for his important role in some of Chicago's most revered bands: Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc, Owls, and American Football. All of the projects with the exception of American Football were bands that featured both Kinsella and his older brother, Tim, a well-known Chicago musician in his own right. In the projects that included both of them, Mike was relegated to the role of drummer while his brother handled guitar work. American Football marked a turning point for Mike,...
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At Home With Owen, Owen
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Customer Ratings