Artist: The Handsome Family Album: Honey Moon File Under: Alt -Country Featured Tracks: “When You Whispered”
Recent reviews of The Handsome Family’s 9th release, Honey Moon, seem to suggest this record is a refreshing collection of uplifting love songs. Having enjoyed the dark tones of the previous 8 wrist-slitters, I was worried. I put Honey Moon on for the first time expecting an utterly new Handsome Family, one I wasn’t sure my unmedicated mind could handle.
The opener, “Linger, Let me Linger” does indeed mention “hearts (drawn on a dusty window pane)” as well as “a love note (lying in the road)”. Is that a love song? I suppose it could be… I grabbed some old Prozac from the medicine cabinet and washed it down with cough syrup. “Little Sparrows” begs to “take me with you when you go”. That is romantic. I finished off a bottle of wine. “Were you with me then my friend, are you with me now?” How sweet!! I am uplifted! And darned if there weren’t some other new things here. The tinkling computer chirps on “Love is Like” evoke Grandaddy. I never saw that coming.
I understand this release coincides with the couples 20th wedding anniversary and all, but love fest this is not. Thank goodness! Brett Sparks’ deep voice, and his unique phrasings are dependably depressing. Rennie Sparks’ magical tragic lyrics would be otherwise unavailable except to the wallpaper in the office of a pricey psychoanalyst. There may be some more “love” songs here, but make no mistake these are not your mother’s love songs. These are songs of ACTUAL real-life love, 20 year love, crying on the phone love. There is a load of beauty but it’s in the dark shadows like the beauty on all previous Handsome Family albums. Enjoy this record with whisky, enjoy it with Zoloft, but whatever you do, go see them July 23rd at the Bottom of the Hill. I bet ya’ 2 drinks they are wearing black.
In probably one of the more ingenious marketing launches of an album, the mysterious and elusive details of Dark Night of the Soul – the collaboration between Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and David Lynch (yes, that’s right) – are now available. You can actually stream the album now on NPR Music.
Artist: Wintersleep Album:Welcome to the Night Sky File Under: Indie Rock Recommended if You Like: Grandaddy, The Editors, Broken Social Scene, Jeff Buckley Featured Track: ‘Drunk on Aluminum’
This has most definitely been the album of the week for me. While not technically a new album (it was released in Canada in 2007), it just hit the US – and my inbox – last week. And has been on heavy rotation ever since.
Welcome to the Night Sky is the third album for the Halifax-based Wintersleep, and one that seems destined for success in the US. Already quite popular in Canada, the band recently received the 2008 Juno award for ‘New Group of the Year’. Their sound is expansive with heavy, smashing guitars combined with delicate, heartbreaking vocals. A sound so well represented in the track ‘Drunk on Aluminum’.
Dig deeper into the album and you start to peel back the layers, and musical influences. They have drawn comparisons to Radiohead, Mogwai and Low. I hear Jeff Buckley at times, Broken Social Scene, The Editors and a bit of Grandaddy during others. But I think what makes them so compelling to me is that they but they never seem to imitate, only reference these artists. Which makes me keep coming back for more. I can’t quite put my finger on it. So I keep listening to it. And the more I do, the more I love it. I hope you do too.
Catch Wintersleep at Slim’s in San Francisco November 24.