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Rank And File

Formed by brothers Chip and Tony Kinman after they split up their hardcore punk band the Dils (who recorded the great L.A. punk single "Class War"), Rank and File were, at times, a dazzling roots rock post-punk band that stumbled early in its career, only to flame out much too quickly and finally collapse with an embarrassing thud. Their debut record, Sundown, was a gem of tuneful, Byrds-ian pop, with a healthy dollop of Gram Parsons and Merle Haggard to boot. The Kinmans' singing was distinctive; they weren't traditional harmony singers à la the Everly Brothers, but rather sang synchronized upper and lower octaves. The songwriting was wry, heartfelt, and cliché-free; the band (which at the time featured the guitar of the immensely talented Alejandro Escovedo) rocked with gusto, but never bombastically, preferring nuance and subtlety over volume and simplicity. In fact, the Kinmans were so into cowpunk and so far from their hardcore punk beginnings that they even landed a spot on PBS's revered country music showcase Austin City Limits. The sophomore record, Long Gone Dead, was an excellent follow-up, but the self-titled third album (it's never a good sign when a band releases a self-titled record three records into a career), recorded three years after Long Gone Dead, was absolutely awful; the songs went nowhere, and the singing and playing, which had previously been so precise and artful, was now buried under a thicket of clichéd hard rockisms. After listening to side one, you knew these guys were done for. Sad, really. In a stunning repudiation of Rank and File's roots rock style, the Kinmans' next project was the execrable Blackbird, an ill-conceived try at synth pop that went a long way toward making them laughingstocks. Former guitarist Alejandro Escovedo formed the excellent (but also short-lived) True Believers with his brother Javier, and since their breakup has recorded a number of interesting solo records. ~ John Dougan, Rovi
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Comments

Laughingstoc k s ? ? What an ugly thing to say. Blackbird was really cool. And Cowboy Nation is my all-time favorite band. I think they deserve a pass for one crappy record. :-)
Chip is my stepfather - it's so cool to see this stuff! Both him & Tony are doing well!
Austin, Texas, Raul's, U had 2 B there! Yeah, Alejandro is from Texas, San Antonio! Made gr8 music in Austin, San Francisco, N.Y.,NY, etc......... .
Tony&Chip came from Carlsbad, Ca. I used to hang around them in their early garage band days, I'd like to reconnect with My old friend Tony, if anybody has recent info........ . . . . . . . . . . . . . t h a n x
email3459
To call Chip and Tony laughingstoc k s shows your ignorance of the alt-country scene. Every person I know loves their contribution to the scene in LA and the genre. Also, you failed to mention their last act, Cowboy Nation, which is marvelous. They played the Stagecoach Festival too, impressing thousands.
I think Alejandro is from Texas. Nice guy. Great songwriter. He's been guest DJing on several Sirius satellite radio stations lately. Check out his solo works and the True Believers' stuff. Terri in
Dallas
shreddie
Where did these guys come from? I like the song unluky in love.

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