signatures just for the sake of being different or writing parts that were technically challenging purely for the sake of being technically challenging. What remained was an artist finding his way through his home studio for the first time while recording all instrumentation on his own.
For 2002's No Good For No One Now, Owen's second full-length, a similar arrangement of purchasing recording equipment instead of studio time was agreed upon. This time the money went towards the purchase of microphones. No Good For No One Now was more realized than the first album owing in part to the experience of self-recording Owen. The most notable distinction between the two albums was Mike's increased use of lyrical, literary devices: each song told a story.
In 2004, in collaboration with Cale Parks (of Aloha), Bob Hoffnar, Jen Tabor, and Paul Koob, Mike began recording again. What resulted was (the ep). The joint effort marked a turning point of sorts for Owen. Rumors began to swirl that a live band would be taken on the road for the first time but these rumors never materialized as Mike again rejoined Joan of Arc and became a touring member of both Maritime and Aloha.
(the ep) had been written as a companion piece to a scheduled full-length. In summer 2004, Mike again began recording and collaborating, this time with cousin Nate Kinsella (Make Believe, Joan of Arc) who lent assistance both on instrumentation and engineering. The results of these efforts were I do perceive., Owen's third full-length.
On At Home With Owen, Mike figuratively leaves the at-home bedroom that has characterized so much of Owen's past musical output. His step away from bedroom recording allowed for an alternative approach to the songs recorded on At Home With Owen. "I've always hated how two dimensional the other Owen albums have sounded, and I think this one's finally got a third dimension," Kinsella says. The new approach to recording involved a fraction of pre-recording at Mike's mom's house, followed by sessions at Semaphore Studios with cousin Nate Kinsella (Joan of Arc, Make Believe) and finally at Engine Studios with Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Red Red Meat). This newfound transient approach to recording allows the music of Owen to reach a new depth; one that sways between organic overtures and fervent, lush ballads.
In July of 2009, Polyvinyl Records released The Seaside EP, a collection of Owen songs previously only available as Japanese bonus tracks, as well as a track from the Association of Utopian Hologram Swallowers 2x7".
Since the release of his last full-length in 2006, much has changed for Kinsella. During the writing process for the fifth album, September’s New Leaves, Kinsella became both a husband and a father, adding a sense of responsibility and new direction to the personalized quality of Owen releases.
As the title suggests, New Leaves finds Kinsella building upon and branching off of the core elements of his efforts - clever lyrics over intricate guitar work - now aided by a more complex song structure and refined lyrical matter.
Produced by Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s), Graeme Gibson (Califone, Joan of Arc), Tim Iseler (Wilco, Teenage Fanclub) and cousin Nate Kinsella, New Leaves is 10 tracks of renewal and personal growth.
Since releasing 2009's New Leaves shortly after the birth of his daughter, Kinsella has embraced the untraditional role
of being a stay-at-home father -- a situation that has invariably led Mike to ruminate on the passing of his own father and their strained relationship. Hide
As such, 2010's Ghost Town finds Kinsella ridding his proverbial closet of lingering presences.
Musically, Ghost Town features some of Owen's loudest, rock-leaning moments to date -- exemplified by the forcefully crescendoing outro of "I Believe" and the screeching electric guitar solo in "Everyone's Asleep in the House but Me."
That Ghost Town proves to be yet another step toward a new musical direction should come as no surprise to those who have followed Owen's songwriting evolution from sparse acoustic offerings (on his self-titled debut) to lush, string-filled arrangements (At Home With Owen, New Leaves).
With production by Brian Deck (Iron & Wine) and Neil Strauch (Bonnie 'Prince' Billy), the songs on Ghost Town become as beautifully fleshed-out as Kinsella finds the lyrical apparitions he confronts to be frustratingly lacking substance.
As a result, the record serves to reincarnate the souls haunting Kinsella -- enabling him to achieve closure and move forward with the next chapter of his life.