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, as he was finally able to show his guitar-playing abilities. The band quickly became an indie darling, seen by many as the best of all the Kinsella groups. Although they released only one proper full-length, American Football made a lasting impression on many indie fans, and showed the indie world that Mike Kinsella was as good a songwriter and guitarist as he was a drummer. Owen picks up where American Football left off, both musically and lyrically.
After having opened up for Rainer Maria on tour, Kinsella returned home from the road with an album's worth of material. With tales of lost love and heartbreak, and utilizing his home studio and an acoustic guitar, he started recording songs that would become his 2001 eponymous Owen debut on Polyvinyl Records. Well received by critics and fans alike, the younger Kinsella returned with his sophomore release for Polyvinyl in 2002, entitled No Good for No One Now, a collection of seven songs that combined the intricate beauty of his debut with more stinging indictments of broken hearts and souls. Two EPs followed in mid-2004, the aptly titled The EP and a split with the Rutabega, Near and Far, Vol. 1, before the third Owen full-length, I Do Perceive, appeared that November. At Home with Owen surfaced two years later, and dates with Copeland and the Appleseed Cast were played in support.
In 2009, Owen reflected on marriage and family with New Leaves, and introduced strings to his musical mix for Ghost Town two years later. The seventh proper Owen album, L'Ami du Peuple, was released in 2013, with Kinsella exploring fatherhood, aging, loss, and beauty in his own now well-defined style. Late 2014 brought Other People's Songs, a collection of acoustic covers of songs by Lungfish, Against Me, Smoking Popes, and other unlikely candidates for mellow revision. For his first album made outside of metropolitan Chicago, Kinsella headed to April Base Studios in Eau Claire, Wisconsin to record 2016's The King of Whys with Bon Iver's S. Carey, who produced and played on the record. ~ Kurt Morris, Rovi