‘True Detective’ music: 10 other great songs by the Handsome Family

Musically speaking, one of the best parts of the breakout success of “True Detective” is the window it opens into the world of the Handsome Family. The husband-wife duo of Brett and Rennie Sparks composed “Far From Any Road,” used each week in the HBO mystery’s opening credits, but that tells only a tiny part of their story.

For the last two decades the pair has been using the blueprints of old-time country and western balladry to create dark but often lovely narratives set in the present.

Featuring songs in which worms “circle like sharks” waiting for death to come, their best work offers songcraft with the narrative drive of short stories. With lyrics on death and the afterlife, drunken heartache, twin sisters, benders in hotel bars and dogs chained to trees, the woes of the world’s tallest man and the last few moments of Amelia Earhart’s life (“… she remembered picking lemons with William Randolph Hearst,” for your information), their tight compositions certainly deserve wider recognition, even if many of them call for a stiff drink afterward.

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True Detective Found Handsome Family

“For HBO’s new critically acclaimed miniseries, True Detective, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as Louisiana sleuths, and New Mexico-based Americana band the Handsome Family, it is a marriage made in heaven (or hell?). True Detective is a dark, Gothic crime anthology about occult murders that has become HBO’s highest-rated series debut since 2010. The Handsome Family’s lyrics and songs are equally twisted and melancholic; it is no wonder True Detective found the Handsome Family.”

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The Handsome Family Fall Tour w/ Andrew Bird, Mary Gauthier, and Wildewood

8 Nov – Seattle, WA @ The Sunset Tavern #
9 Nov – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge #
10 Nov – Eugene, OR @ Sam Bond’s Garage #
12 Nov – San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord #
13 Nov – Berkeley, CA @ Freight & Salvage %
14 Nov – Davis, CA @ Mondavi Center ^
15 Nov – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Rio Theatre ^
16 Nov – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Rio Theatre ^
18 Nov – Arcata, CA @ Humboldt State University ^
19 Nov – Chico, CA @ Cal State Chico ^
21 Nov – Santa Barbara, CA @ UC Santa Barbara ^
22 Nov – Los Angeles, CA @ The Bootleg 

# – Wildewood
% – Mary Gauthier
^ – Andrew Bird

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