Posts Tagged ‘Handsome Family’

A few weeks ago we shared some tracks from Uncut magazine’s Wilco covers CD.

Longstanding MM faves The Handsome Family also contributed a cover – of Capitol City – from 2011’s The Whole Love.

Like pretty much everything they do, it is wonderful and Loose have now released it as a single.



And the original…


The new Handsome Family album Unseen is rapidly becoming one of our most played, and is another fabulous addition to their catalogue of twisted, gothic tinged Americana.

The latest track to be shared is Tiny Tina, which tells “the tragic story of tiny-horse-meeting gone awry.

Rennie Spark describes it thus, “Every year at the state fair I went determined to see Tiny Tina the world’s smallest horse. Every year I came home without doing it. One year she just wasn’t there. Why didn’t I go see her when I had the chance? Maybe I was afraid of disappointment? Maybe I was afraid of not being disappointed? I did see a hypnotist at the state fair one year who was so terrifying that I felt like I was having a psychotic break. The devil himself may have been at the fair that year. Carnivals are always that way— teetering between joy and insanity. Is this why so many people are afraid of clowns? We hope you hear all these things in this song: joy, fear, heartbreak, awe— all the things the sight of a really tiny horse ought to make you feel.


Unseen (out on 16th September) the forthcoming album from Americana royalty The Handsome Family is already picking up some outstanding reviews and we are looking forward immensely to getting our greasy paws on a copy.

Until then though we have a second track from the album to share with you. Back In My Day is a wonderfully tongue in cheek celebration of years past and sees the band harking back to a time where we could “drink from the river“, had “mile-high glaciers“, when “the birds were always watching” and “there were monsters in the sea“.

Good times! Listen here.


Handsome Family

It is a delight to discover that one of our favourite bands,  the wonderful cult duo of Brett and Rennie Sparks, aka The Handsome Family will soon return with their tenth studio album Unseen. It is out via one of our favourite labels Loose, on the 16th September.

The album continues The Handsome Family’s embrace of things beyond easy view: the slow dive of the sun, enormous bugs awakening in thorny yards, sirens and coyotes that cry out to the purple sky, a tribute to William Crookes who built the first vacuum tube in 1875 (hoping to detect spirits from unseen dimensions), bleached desert bones, blackjack losers – you get the picture I’m sure.

The first track from it is the wonderful Gold, inspired by an incident when a bunch of twenty-dollar bills blew in Brett’s face in a parking-lot dust storm. It is a modern classic murder ballad set against a backdrop of “wide empty streets, the air shaking with heat.” The track paints typically intense images of a protagonist, with snake tattoos, a ski mask, and gun shot wounds – all the result of feeling “hungry to do something mean”.

Classic Handsome Family. Great to have them back.


Andrew Bird Releases Album Of Handsome Family Covers

Andrew Bird will embark on a North American tour this Summer with his band Hands of Glory. The tour (dates at the foot of this post) will celebrate the release of Bird’s collection of The Handsome Family covers, Things are Really Great Here, Sort Of… which came out at the beginning of this month.

Bird, who has long been a fan and first covered their track Don’t Be Scared in 2003, toured with the band last Autumn and began working on this collection. The album includes an updated rendition of Don’t Be Scared, along with Far From Any Road, the main title theme song for the HBO series True Detective.

Listen to The Sad Milkman and Giant Of Illinois. Order the album here.



And the dates:

6/9 Washington, DC – Lincoln Theatre
6/10 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
6/12 Asheville, NC – Orange Peel
6/13 Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo
6/15 Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom
6/16 Austin, TX – The Paramount
6/19 Boulder, CO – Chautauqua Community House
6/20 Boulder, CO – Chautauqua
6/21 Telluride, CO – Telluride Bluegrass Fest
7/2 Ann Arbor, MI – Power Center
7/4 Toronto, ON – Urban Roots Fest
7/6 Montreal, QC – Montreal Jazz Fest
7/8 New York, NY – Summerstage
7/10 Hanover, NH – Dartmouth
7/11 Bridgeport, CT – The Klein
7/12 Lowell, MA – Summer Music Series
7/18 Vancouver, BC – Vancouver Folk Fest
7/24-27 Calgary, AB – Calgary Folk Fest
7/26 Edmonton, AB – Interstellar Rodeo
8/1 Big Sur, CA – Henry Miller Library
8/2 Saratoga, CA – Mountain Winery
8/3 San Francisco, CA – Stern Grove Fest

Mad Mackerel's Halloween Mix 2013

Here is our traditional free Halloween Mix for 2013 – twenty five great tunes and the fourth year we’ve provided a soundtrack for one of the best nights of the year.

Download a perfect mix of ghouls, ghosts, spooks, and all manner of assorted monsters…from all genres and the past 40 years.

No trick, all treat!

Download Gene Vincent – Race With The Devil mp3

Download The Sonics – The Witch mp3

Download Atomic Rooster – Devil’s Answer mp3

Download Kris Kristofferson – The Silver-Tongued Devil And I mp3

Download Marianne Faithfull – Witches Song mp3

Download Warren Zevon – Werewolves Of London mp3

Download The Mob – Witch Hunt mp3

Download John Cooper Clarke – (I Married A) Monster From Outer Space mp3

Download The Cult – L’il Devil mp3

Download The Handsome Family – Winnebago Skeletons mp3

Download Sparklehorse – Ghost In The Sky mp3

Download Steve Earle – The Devil’s Right Hand mp3

Download The Eagles of Death Metal – Who’ll Love The Devil mp3

Download Eels – My Beloved Monster mp3

Download Ghoultown – Return Of The Living Dead mp3

Download Sons & Daughters – Monsters mp3

Download John Statz – Ghost Towns mp3

Download The Black Angels – Haunting At 1130 McKinley (Hear Ya Session) mp3

Download The Builders & The Butchers – Devil Town mp3

Download Those Poor Bastards – Phantom Pool mp3

Download Pink Mountaintops – Vampire mp3

Download The Sad Bastard Book Club – We Build Ghost Towns From The Ground Up

Download Brown Bird – Devil Dancing mp3

Download My Teenage Stride – Dance To The Skeleton Hand mp3

Download Graveyard Train – Even Witches Like To Go Out Dancing mp3

Check out our free Halloween mix downloads from previous years here.

Videos of the Day

A superb collection of videos (and songs) today. Just dive into these from The Handsome Family, Secret Colours, Dinosaur Bones and a live version of one of our favourite tracks from 2012, Willy Mason’s brilliant Restless Fugitive.



[Click through for free downloads]


Videos of the Day

The brilliantly weird Americana of the Handsome Family has long been a fave at MM and new album Wilderness is awaited here with much eagerness. For now, enjoy the video for Woodpecker about the famous 1890s Wisconsin window smasher Mary Sweeney (pre-order the album here) and stream a second album track in the shape of Caterpillars.

We’ve already posted a couple of times about Dead Confederate this year and new album In The Marrow is a triumph of muscular crunchy guitars and swaggering, drawled vocals. Watch their boozy new video for Vacations. We also have Jonny Fritz’s brilliant fireworks and dancing video for Goodbye Summer and Foxygen’s new video for No Destruction, our favourite track from their excellent album We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. Like they say “There’s no need to be an asshole, you’re not in Brooklyn anymore“.




Anti Valentine's Day mix

You know the score. MM is a blog that (musically) tends to favour the seedier side of life – murder ballads, heartbreak, despair, stories of the downtrodden, the down-on-their-luck, and the downhearted – you know the kind of things we mean. Ours is a world of lonely beer and whiskey chasers nursed in the back booths of dead-end bars, of crack-whores turning tricks in trailers while their children listen on from the next room, and of purposeless drifters stumbling broke, and broken, through dusty ghost-towns.

Its just the way we like it round these parts.

And frankly, given the last six months of luck that we’ve seen our nearest and dearest suffer, if Cupid were to shoot us with his arrow at the moment it would probably go through our eye and not our heart.

The point of this pointless preamble is to give Cupid the finger, and you the perfect dozen…of misery, sorrow and regret.

Be our guest, pour that whiskey and come wallow for a while.

Download John Prine – Sam Stone mp3MM's Anti Valentine Mix
“Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios”

Download Big Star – Holocaust mp3
“You’re a wasted face. You’re a sad-eyed lie. You’re a holocaust”

Download The Handsome Family – So Much Wine mp3
“But when you fell asleep with blood on your teeth, I got in my car and drove away.”

Download Smog – Your New Friend mp3
And in this chair tonight. I wouldn’t mind if I die. And left you to your new friend.”

Download The Magnetic Fields – 100,000 Fireflies mp3
You won’t be happy with me. But give me one more chance. You won’t be happy anyway”

Download The Smiths – I Know It’s Over mp3
“As I climb into an empty bed. Oh, well, enough said.”MM's Anti Valentine Mix

Download The Pernice Brothers – Chicken Wire mp3
And all the walls will fade to black. Could she be thinking of another?”

Download Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Death To Everyone mp3
Death to all, and death to each, our own God-bottle, s’within reach”

Download The Red House Painters – Katy Song mp3
“Quiet in the corner. Numb and falling through. Without you what does my life amount to?”

Download Jolie Holland – I Wanna Die mp3
Well, I wanna die. I don’t care how, I’m getting out. Down south Louisiana. And the lonesome highway sound.”

Download American Music Club – Blue And Grey Shirt mp3
I sat up all morning so why did you call? Cause now I just sing my songs. For people that are gone from now on”

Download Shellac – Prayer To God mp3
“Him – just fucking kill him, I don’t care if it hurts. Yes I do, I want it to, fucking kill him but first, make him cry like a woman”

MMs Anti valentine Mix

The Handsome Family: Live Review.

The Handsome Family || Bullingdon Arms, Oxford || May 25th 2012

You never quite know what you’re going to get at a Handsome Family gig. The venue was an old familiar haunt, quite cataclysmically changed from yesteryear – and not in an altogether good way. (Though thankfully, the Back Room of the Bully now has air con, which on a sweltering Friday evening in May is just what was needed.) It all made me feel quite sad to my gills. Mind you not quite as sad or as sick as a pint of possibly the worst beer I’ve ever tasted, blended with what tasted like Fairy Liquid lemon. Undrinkable. Never mind, on to darker matters, which is of course, why we’re here.

First up was New Zealand duo, Tiny Ruins, who played an impressively short set. Perhaps it wasn’t so short, but by the time I had found out what time their set started, hoisted the men folk from their seats, we saw about two songs and it was all over.  Don’t blame me, she muttered to herself. Nevertheless, it was impressive: two gals, hosting one guitar and one double bass betwixt, bewitched the milling crowd with gentle ballads and breathy vocals. Expect to hear more from this pair in the future.

So on with the Rennie and Brett Sparks show, the opening of which stalled slightly due to a technical error (I was slightly anxious for the sound man for a short time) and then, all at once, we entered the twilight zone. Much has been writ of Rennie’s idiosyncratic banter between songs, and yes, her low key, laconic asides make their set all the better and funnier. She was on fine form tonight – carefully scripted ad libs these are not – but a little light in contrast to the dark they are.

We kick off with Weightless Again (think holiday in the red mountains, minus medication, gone wrong) followed by So Much Wine (think too much wine, too often, rather tragically), so that’s two of us happy. Baritone Brett sings effortlessly and deeply to your own heart of darkness (think Andrew Eldritch meets Grizzly Adams) and we get an extensive set spanning the old and the new, yet to be released, material. All the while, Rennie effortlessly strums, sings, chats and reflects on a whim.  Set highlights include, The Giant of Illinois, The Bottomless Hole, The Sad Milkman, After We Shot The Grizzly and encore tune, Linger Let Me Linger.

Handsome Family On Mad Mackerel.

New songs about an octopus and a glow worm suggest new variations on themes of natural phenomena (caves, holes, lightning, swamps) and wildlife (snakes, caterpillars, frogs, spiders, giant birds).  They truly are one-off originals with their strange but beautiful strain of gothic folk.

Soon it’s all over to a deservedly warm reception from the intimate crowd, and we all leave smiling – perhaps a little macabre in another setting. But you know, you had to be there.

Download The Handsome Family – The Sad Milkman mp3 (from In The Air)

Download Tiny Ruins – The Death Of A Russian mp3 (from Some Were Meant For Sea)

Download more Handsome Family songs here. Buy the back catalogue from Amazon here. Buy Tiny Ruins from their Bandcamp page here.