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Empty Pose

Joan of Arc isn't art, it's just bad singing.

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Tim Kinsella is a pretentious wank. His off-key croak as lead singer of Cap'n Jazz and Joan of Arc inspired hundreds of tonally challenged emo singers, and his musical catalog is littered with discordant, meandering dreck in the guise of the avant-garde.

Compared to the work of Sonic Youth protégés such as Glenn Branca and Elliott Sharp, Kinsella's experimentalism is callow and self-conscious. His cerebral, disconnected free-verse lyrics are knitted together by an overarching inscrutability that passes for depth, and he bleats them like a beat poet with a speech impediment.

"I still don't know if I like music," Kinsella said during a radio interview recently, which tells you all you need to know about him.

What's particularly sad is how much Tim has overshadowed his infinitely more modest and interesting younger brother, Mike Kinsella. The more melodically gifted of the two, Mike makes music with his old band, American Football, and his solo project, Owen, that's much more deserving of indie genuflection than the overblown, overwrought, and underwritten crap produced by his brother.

Owen offers pretty pop that's more Elliott Smith than Chris Carrabba, and emanates an easy sincerity rather than the tortured diffidence affected by most emo acts. It's refreshingly straightforward, and -- unlike his brother's music -- not saddled with the pretentious notion that it's art.

Mike's work has been overshadowed by his brother's because he was the drummer of Cap'n Jazz, while Tim was the lead singer. If only for this reason, we must end our prejudice against drummers and start eyeing lead singers more warily.

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