Posted March 22nd 2018
Why we love The Handsome Family
Gothic Americana and alternative country duo, The Handsome Family (aka Brett and Rennie Sparks), released Through The Trees in 1998. They are perhaps best known for their song Far from Any Road from the album Singing Bones, which was used as the main title theme for the first season of HBO’s 2014 crime drama True Detective. 2018 marks 20 years since the release, which Loose will be celebrating with a 20th Anniversary Edition of Through The Trees released on 9th March.
Melting Vinyl will be hosting The Handsome Family’s Brighton and Folkestone leg of the tour on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th March, respectively.
Breakthrough album, Through the Trees, was the duo’s final push to finally be able to quit their day jobs. Uncut magazine declared it to be the year’s “Best New Country Album“, MOJO magazine named it one of the “10 Essential Americana Records Of All Time“, with The Guardian going on to call the album’s opening track, Weightless Again, one of the “100 Best Songs Ever Written About Heartbreak”.
Melting Vinyl’s track to lookout for is a beautiful track called Stalled.
US rock critic, Greil Marcus, once stated The Handsome Family as “the Beatles of the folk world”.
The duo often write songs using a grand mixture of the mundane and macabre, including songs about poodles who think they’re cowboys, supermarkets where pine forests spring up between the aisles and songs about sad milkmen.
The couple first met at University in New York, where Brett studied Music History and Rennie Philosophy. Brett was waiting in the student union for another date to show up when Rennie appeared with a tambourine and a bottle of tequila. It all started from that point.
The Handsome Family – Brett said in an interview: “It’s just kind of a stupid name. We used to have this really obnoxious drummer, and he used to call me ‘Handsome’, that was his nickname for me, I think for sarcastic reasons. He wanted to call it the Handsome Family … and we thought it was funny, too. We thought it was a good name.”
In 2014, they gained much wider fame when their haunting song, “Far From Any Road,” became the theme for the first season of HBO’s True Detective.
When Brett’s “really cool job” as a fact-checker for an encyclopedia came to an abrupt end (via the internet). He ended up proofreading the standardised school tests, for which Rennie was designing the layouts. “I did this for years and was very quiet,” she recalls, “but every once in a while I’d disappear on tour for a month, and one day I came in and one of my bosses was holding up a picture of me in Rolling Stone magazine and she was really angry and said: ‘Can you explain this?!?’ You’d think she’d be happy for me.”