If anyone can claim to be the godfather of the underground emo scene that’s been brewing in the country’s basements for the past five years or so, it’s Chicago singer-songwriter Mike Kinsella. (That’s not to say he’d want to, though.) Sometimes it feels like most new emo bands are trying to re-create one sound or another from Kinsella’s lengthy catalog, whether it’s his early work as the drummer in cacophonous mid-90s posthardcore outfit Cap’n Jazz
or the wistful tunes of his long-standing solo project Owen
. (He’s also recently teamed up with a couple talented dudes from the new scene in Their/They’re/There
.) Most of Owen’s songs are stripped-down and bare, with backdrops that often consist of nothing but gentle acoustic picking, and Kinsella keeps things beautifully emotional and disarmingly intimate even when it sounds like he’s switching to an electric guitar hooked up to a Marshall stack or collaborating with a chamber orchestra. Owen sounds slightly louder than usual on its forthcoming seventh album, L’ami du Peuple
(Polyvinyl), with “The Burial” and “I Got High” drawing on dramatic 80s pop-rock balladry to amp up the resplendent glow of the cozy songwriting. No matter how loud or hard the music gets, though, L’ami du Peuple
still makes good twilight listening—whether Kinsella is ruminating about his father’s death, the flu, or his groaning plumbing, he always sings a couple notches above a whisper, as if he were lulling his kids to sleep. —Leor Galil New Canyons open the early show, which is all ages; Pet Symmetry opens the late show, which is 21 and up.