When Tony Kinman died in 2018, his departure suddenly and sadly halted one unique brotherly partnership. Tony and his brother Chip created an unbelievably wide range of music together. The duo began performing together as The Dils (a punk band) in the late 70s, then formed a group that performed what was sometimes termed cow punk with Rank And File, before surprisingly going industrial/experimental with Blackbird. The two's last incarnation was all country with Cowboy Nation.
The pair's career receives well-rounded representation on "Sounds Like Music," a single disc overview of their partnership. Some of the Blackbird tracks can be challenging for traditionalists, particularly due to the oddly affected vocals for "Me Too." Yet, Blackbird's cover of Tom Waits' "Jersey Girl" couldn't have been more straightforward. Ah, but it's so good to hear the Everly Brothers-esque vocal harmonies of Rank And File's "Amanda Ruth," presented here in an alternative version.
"Paniolo," also an alternative version, is the lone Cowboy Nation track. It shines because of its aggressive acoustic guitar strumming and slightly Tex-Mex vibe. The Dils are also only represented once, with the noisy "Folks Say Go." That leaves mostly Blackbird and Rank And File tracks filling out the collection.
Few artists straddled the line between roots rock and sonic adventurism better than Chip and Tony Kinman. "Sounds Like Music" is a happy reminder of all the wonderful music they created together. It's also a sad document of a partnership that ended far too soon with one member's death. If anything, these recordings sound like a good excuse to survey Chip and Tony Kinman's memorable collaborations together.