The Handsome Family
Taking place under bowed branches and deep within winding corn mazes, The Handsome Family's latest release, "Honey Moon" is full of an awed sense of emotion in the face of nature's mysteries, Brett Sparks (music) and Rennie Sparks (lyrics) branched from their usual canon of the dark and mysterious on "Honey Moon", to establish a theme rooted in the tradition of 19th-century romanticism. It is an album of transcendence, of touching the divine, if only for a moment, through our love of someone else, even if he is a katydid. The record's release (their eighth) coincided with the Sparks' twentieth year of marriage.
The twosome's seventh CD, "Last Days of Wonder" (June 2006), was one of Mojo's Top Ten American Albums for 2006 and was called "an unqualified triumph" by Uncut. Their fourth album, "In the Air" was recently listed as one of the essential records of the first decade of the 21st century by Uncut. In 2004, a reader's poll in Mojo named The Handsome Family's third CD, "Through the Trees" one of the ten essential Americana records. UK national newspaper, "The Guardian" listed their song "Weightless Again" as one of the 100 essential songs about Heartbreak.
Their songs have been covered by many artists, most notably: Andrew Bird, Christy Moore, The Sadies, Sally Timms and Cerys Matthews. They have appeared in the movie, I'm Your Man (2005), a tribute to Leonard Cohen as well as Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus (2004). The Handsome Family record all their songs in a converted garage studio at the back of their Albuquerque house.
In their live performances the band is sometimes up to a six-piece band and sometimes just Brett and Rennie playing guitar and banjo. They have toured extensively throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. A recent live review (by Mike Ritchie) noted, "There's a lot of smiling at this gig, on and off stage. That might surprise many people who have only read about the duo's penchant for songs riddled with darkness, death and the macabre. But Rennie Sparks and her husband, Brett are funny live...through their chit-chat, the song introductions and the banter with the audience...This sell-out show, part of the excellent Glasgow Americana Festival, was a knockabout celebration of the deadpan, a real joy... Rennie's words plus Brett's music and strong, mellow vocals create a magical potion of grim fairytales in a rock and blues pot with grinning unavoidable."
Elephant Micah is music by southern Indiana based singer and sound recordist Joseph O'Connell. Taking cues from 1970s songcraft (Townes Van Zandt, Joni Mitchell) as well as midwestern lo-fi rock
(Guided by Voices), Elephant Micah has gradually built a cult audience over a decade
of do-it-yourself releases and tours.
O'Connell's work is perhaps best known among other musicians. Folk rocker Jason
Molina (Magnolia Electric Co., Songs:Ohia) is one such enthusiast, going so far as to
arrange a string of impromptu opening slots for Elephant Micah on his 2005 European tour. More recently, underground darlings Dark Dark Dark have adopted the Elephant Micah song "Wild Goose
Chase" as a staple of their repertoire, recording the song first for the popular Daytrotter website and subsequently on their Bright Bright Bright EP.
2010 saw Elephant Micah release Echoer's Intent, a stripped-down, "old-time"-inflected album that is perhaps the first to foreground O'Connell as a songwriter and solo performer. Alongside this new work, Time-Lag Records (home of recordings by Espers, Six Organs of Admittance, Woods)
issued a deluxe CD and LP edition of Elephant Micah Plays the Songs of Bible Birds, a previously shelved concept album from 2006. In support of this output, O'Connell embarked on a marathon 9-week spring tour across the United States.
High Noon Saloon
701 A E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53703
|Minimum Age: 21|
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: No|