American Football is also the name of a late-90's Chicago-based "emo" band fronted by Mike Kinsella (Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc). Steve Lamos and Steve Holmes completed the trio, taking up rhythm guitar and drums. Other than a single for their label, Polyvinyl, American Football only released one album, a self-titled release of 12 songs constructed throughout their college years at University of Illinois-Urbana.
American Football took the generic emo formula perfected by bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and removed the distortion leaving a layer of clear melodic guitar riffs. Upon hearing their music, you'll realize that only rarely do Kinsella or Holmes play actual chords. 99% of the guitar work consists of beautiful picking of delicate and complicated riffs.
Kinsella's vocals are pretty shabby but it's pretty clear he doesn't want to take attention away from the beautiful polyrhythyms of the guitars. You could probably place American Football as the polar opposite of Fugazi on the "emo" spectrum. Ian McKaye created an abrasive and angular sound where Kinsella's music is melodic, flowing, and generally apolitical.
The track "Let's Just Pretend" showcases Kinsella's mastery the best. When I first heard the opening melody while walking to class with my iPod, I felt my knees become weak. I felt like I had the muscial equivalent of a triple orgasm. Except no mess to clean up...
However, after releasing their first album in Sept. 1999, everyone graduated and went their separate ways. Mike Kinsella did a short stint with his brother, Tim, in the Owls, and now is the force behind Owen, a solo acoustic guitar "singer/songwriter" project. According to the band, any further musical output is "indefinitely postponed".