Carrot Top Records

Handsome Family

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The Handsome Family’s greatest gift lies in its tremendous talent for painting vivid, sometimes terrifying
pictures with every word— NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO

The Sparks plunge back into the woods where the trees rise wild for their latest, returning with 12 tales of
mystery and imagination that form one of the strongest, most cohesive albums of their career—ONION AV CLUB

Amid familiar fiddles and banjos, the Handsome Family's absorbing vision of decay and entropy is quietly
unsettling, and makes most other modern roots music seem like child's play—MOTHER JONES
Words that in their everyday surrealism have no parallel in contemporary writing...
Music that mines the deep veins of fatalism in the Appalachian voice — GREIL MARCUS

As songwriters it’s the eerie, ancestral voice of ‘Anonymous’
they ultimately resemble the most —THE CHICAGO READER

This is music that moves forward by turning the clock back—
haunting, primal and strangely heroic—THE LONDON TIMES
Wilderness (2013)— Best Americana Albums of the Year — UNCUT
Through the Trees, (1998)— “One of the ten essential Americana records of all time” — MOJO
In the Air (2000) —“One of the most important records of the 21st century” — UNCUT
Last Days of Wonder (2006) — Top Ten Americana Albums of 2006— MOJO
“Weightless Again” — “One of the 100 best songs ever written about heartbreak”— The Guardian UK

Enter the dark forest of The Handsome Family and let the beautiful branches surround you. Wild animals, tall tales, and dark stories from American history populate the lyrics of Wilderness. In lyricist Rennie Sparks’ hands the wonders of nature are intertwined with true stories of Stephen Foster’s death in a Bowery flophouse, General Custer’s shiny boots as he lay dead on a Montana prairie, and the capture of Mary Sweeney, the Wisconsin Window Smasher of 1896. There are tall tales of the octopus’s hypnotic sea-dance, the frenzied mayhem of a town afflicted by a golden lizard’s bite, and an enormous mansion full of screeching owls. Appalachian holler, psychedelic rock, tin pan alley, and medieval ballads continue to inform The Handsome Family’s unique brand of Americana, while an affinity for parlor ballads and clawhammer banjo has crept in with Wilderness. This is haunting music in the most wonderful way–brilliant, emotionally-charged and completely unique.

Brett and Rennie Sparks have been collaborating as The Handsome Family for over 20 years. With lyrics by Rennie and music by Brett, The Handsome Family infuse their singular art with everything from punk rock to folk, and have garnered extensive critical acclaim over the years. Of course, you don’t have to be a music historian to love the complexity of these songs. They are full of romantic longing for nature’s mysterious beauty and the tiny wonders of everyday life. They pair sweet melody with sad harmony, love poetry with dark beats. This music makes you shiver and cry, but also music that makes you happy to be alive.

Wilderness the album has a companion release in a book of essays and art by Rennie Sparks, also entitled Wilderness. The book expands and intertwines the meticulously researched and little-known enigmas of the natural world explored on the album: immortal jellyfish, woodpecker tongues, tiny dancing octopi, fly royalty, the secret language of crows, and mysterious ant spirals.

The Handsome Family’s music and lyricism has always attracted intellectual and devoted fans. Their songs are frequently covered by many notable artists including Jeff Tweedy, Andrew Bird, Kelly Hogan, and Christy Moore. Their work has garnered praise from Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and an unnamed singer on American Idol.

LP includes full color insert and digital download code
CD includes 12-page booklet
Deluxe LP Box Set includes full color box, vinyl LP, 72-pg 12x12” full color companion book of essays and art by Rennie Sparks, 11x17” poster, six-postcard set with original full-color art by Rennie Sparks

All original album artwork by Rennie Sparks

Press by Carla Sacks and Krista Williams at Sacks & Co.:
Press by Zach Hinkle at Sneak Attack Media:
Photos may be published non-commerically for free with proper copyright attribution.