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American Football

Sensitive boys with guitars who start bands at a young age are often pigeonholed with the loaded moniker "emo." Especially when those boys used to be in bands like Cap'n Jazz and Joan of Arc. But somehow (perhaps it's their use of the trumpet?), American Football avoids playing into tired old cliches about emo music. In fact, their heartfelt, delicately textured songs may win over even the most fervent anti-emo set.

American Football formed in Urbana, Illinois in 1997 after Mike Kinsella (ex-Cap'n Jazz/Joan of Arc) and Steve Lamos from The One Up Downstairs got together with solo artist Steve Holmes. In October, 1998, the trio released a three-song CD single on Polyvinyl Records. They toured -- briefly -- and then released a self-titled full-length in September 1999.

"Honestly?" from that album, is typical of American Football: all twinkly guitars and polyrhythms carefully and lovingly sculpted into a whirlwind of sounds and textures. But they shade their lilting melodies with an undercurrent of melancholy that adds depth without becoming maudlin.

Sadly, the members of American Football have decided to indefinitely postpone any further recording or touring plans, so fans have only 12 songs to enjoy. But it's a lovely dozen.