Thursday, February 14, 2008


The brothers Chip and Tony Kinman have been in no less than four bands together over the past thirty years, each with its own distinct personality and claim to greatness. They generally walk the line between punk rock and country, but they’ve covered a lot of territory throughout their prolific careers, so I thought it was time to recognize the under-recognized…

The Dils were possibly the greatest of the West Coast hardcore bands of the late 70s, and all this with only three singles to their credit (a number of live recordings are still in existence). Here they are at their most melodic. (Aside: when this song was rerecorded by Rank and File a few years later, they cut the line, “I don’t listen to the cops, I wish they all were dead.” I wonder why?)
The Dils - "Sound of the Rain"

Sundown, the brothers’ first album as the mildly successful Rank and File (a band that once featured a young Alejandro Escovedo, the alt-country legend who is supposedly Sheila E’s uncle), is their crowning achievement, so damn engaging from start to finish. The genre is typically called cowpunk, to denote a rollicking set of tunes that have fun with imagery of the American West. The follow-up, Long Gone Dead, is a somewhat inferior rewrite, while their third self-titled album has been called one of the most atrocious sellouts of all time. The proof? Decide for yourself.
Rank and File - "Conductor Wore Black"

Blackbird was a melodic post-punk venture for the Kinmans, as they loved up on the Jesus and Mary Chain and their ilk. The songs are prone to reverb and overproduction, indicative of the early 90s. Three self-titled albums were released under the Blackbird moniker, all of which are pretty impossible to find these days.
Blackbird - "Mary's World"

Cowboy Nation is their most overtly country project, so overt, in fact, that it couldn’t really be called anything but country. They’ve been inactive since 2002, and during these past few years, the brothers Kinman have been flying more below the radar than ever before. Maybe they will become rediscovered through this blog post!
Cowboy Nation - "Remember the Alamo"


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