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Cowboy Nation

Coconut Grove – 1998 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Cowboy Nation

It's been over a decade and a half since the Kinman brothers helped to simultaneously launch and define a style that came to be known as cowpunk. The Kinmans' amazing thrash country band, Rank and File, became one of the original alt.-country bands, and their debut "Sundown" (which featured Alejandro Escovedo on bass) was easily one of the best releases of 1982.

It's been almost 10 years since the Kinmans' last effort, a dense electronic tarpit known as Blackbird. At last, the brothers have returned to their roots, perhaps even farther back than the songs and sounds of Rank and File, with this.

More song cycle than concept album, the Kinmans examine the many aspects and dichotomies of contemporary cowboy life. Everything here is acoustic, but the rhythms and cadences are unmistakable - "Way Out West" and "Big Train" play like Rank and File demos. Tony's powerful baritone and Chip's sweet tenor still blend in the most gorgeous harmonies, and this western folk album is a most welcome return from the all too absent Kinmans. Maybe next time they'll plug in and show Wilco who put the alt. in their country.