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Thursday 01 March 2018

The Handsome Family: HBO Hipsters Bring Tracks New & Old To Brighton

In 2015 The Handsome Family became famous for providing the theme tune to Season 1 of HBO's hit TV drama series True Detective, introducing them to a whole new audience and a whole load of new fans. 

The featured song, Far From Any Road, has been streamed over fifty million times and counting. They suddenly became a little less of a secret. 

However, even before this worldwide success, the band weren't short of admirers, counting Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr amongst their fans, and with the likes of Jeff Tweedy, Amanda Palmer, Cerys Matthews, Christy Moore and Andrew Bird all having covered their songs. 

In 2016, the band released Unseen. The highly anticipated new record explored the unseen stories, people and places of the American west.

However, it was way back in 1998 when Brett & Rennie Sparks got their first big break, with the release of the The Handsome Family's third album, Through The Trees. 

Rennie recalls the recording process: "We wrote and recorded all the songs for Through the Trees in a third floor walk-up loft in the heart of Chicago. 

"This was the actual forest of Through the Trees— an old warehouse space with high, crumbling ceilings, huge chains hanging from cracked sky-lights, fat black cockroaches wobbling across the uneven floor, a broken elevator, a DJ booth (where we slept) and eight foot high windows preparing to fall out onto the street. 

"Light bulbs exploded when turned on and frost formed in the living room. We named one of the many large paint chips hanging from the tin ceiling (Chippy). Outside was a garbage-strewn, urine-stinking street that was a constant parade of wind-beaten people.

"Walking home from a bar one night I saw a rat scuttle behind a dumpster and felt a surge of joy. I began to notice pigeons cooing in girders below the highway and the way leaves fluttered in the scrawny branches of sidewalk trees. 

"Living in a man-made wilderness made me begin to see nature. It made me begin to write about falling snow, barking dogs, snakes, forests, mountains, fire... So began the songs of Through the Trees

"When Brett recorded a take in that make-shift loft studio I had to stand perfectly still so the floor wouldn't squeak. 

"We still managed to make so much noise that our downstairs neighbour often turned his stereo on full blast, pointed the speakers up at the ceiling then left for the day. We deserved it. We were two crazy kids. Literally."

Dave Trumfio, who had produced The Handsome Family's first two albums, encouraged Brett to make the record on his own. In those days making a record outside a studio was fairly unheard of, but Brett was determined to learn. 

"We couldn't afford to buy recording equipment, but we found a rental company in the suburbs. We did own a drum machine. Our drummer, Mike Werner, had called it quits a few months back and Dr. Rhythm (Boss DR-770) had taken his place. 

"The rental equipment wasn't easy to work with or of high quality, but it was a start.
During this time, our favourite venue was Chicago's legendary Lounge Ax. 

"The owner of the club, Sue Miller, had just married Jeff Tweedy. Brett had given Jeff a cassette with some demos on it. 

"Jeff offered to let us borrow a bunch of gear he had but wasn't using (an ADAT, a Mackie mixer, Lexicon reverb and a fabulous Tube-Tech compressor). 

"This was a huge gift - Jeff gave us more than gear, he gave us time. We returned our rental equipment and slowed our work pace. 

"We were finally recording music without worrying about how much money each hour was costing us. It completely changed how we worked."

This year marks twenty years since the release, which Loose will be celebrating with a 20th Anniversary Edition of Through The Trees to be released on 9th March. 

The Handsome Family play.St George's Church, Brighton, on 24th March 2018. CLICK HERE for tickets.

by: Mike Cobley


This year marks a brand new chapter for English alternative rock band, Mallory Knox, as their latest single, Black Holes, is turning heads, with frontman Sam Douglas describing the new music as “terrifying and exciting” and “the most energised Mallory has ever written”. 

Carleen Anderson has been hailed by the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, as 'phenomenal and one of a kind' and now, for Brighton Fesival 20018, she's joining ranks with virtuoso pianist Nikki Yeoh, and Mercury Music Prize-winning rapper Speech Debelle.

Brighton bound Catholic Action are a product of Glasgow's famously fertile music scene but have won fans across the UK thanks to a run of peerless pop tunes.

Roger Daltrey is set to release new solo album, As Long As I Have You, which features Pete Townshend's inimitable guitar on seven tracks as well as guest performances from Mick Talbot on keyboards (Dexys, The Style Council).

RadioReverb, Brighton's not for profit radio station, will be Broadcast Media Partner for Brighton Festival 2018, following last year's partnership.

As part of World Poetry Day, the world's first and only mobile poetic first aid service will be open to everyone at Jubilee Square, Brighton, on Wednesday 21st March 2018, 11am – 4pm. 

Snow Patrol will return later this spring with Wildness, their first album in seven years, which finds the band searching for clarity, connection, and meaning, while staying true to the melodic songwriting prowess that brought them to prominence. 

The sexual health and contraception (SHAC) team in Brighton will be using new visual aids to help overcome female patients' embarrassment and stigma about their bodies after receiving a donation from Brighton artist, Jamie McCartney.

“Sometimes you have to go to the edge of the world in order to come back again,” says Chris Difford on the rollercoaster ride his eventful life in the music business has provided.

Reef, the revitalised west-country quartet, have returned with Revelation, their first studio album since 2000's, Getaway.  
The Damned by Steve Gullick 2018

It's 2018 and the results of The Damned's collaboration with another legend from pop's golden age – Tony Visconti, is about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public

Described as “the missing link between David Bowie and The Sex Pistols” Doctors of Madness exploded onto the music scene in 1975 with their theatrical, William Burroughs-inspired Sci-fi nightmare, they were misunderstood by many, but those who knew understood the importance of the band's dangerous, uncompromising approach to lyrics, to music and to performance.
Charlie Craggs: Founder of Nail Transphobia

Brighton Dome joins forces with Brighton Women's Centre and Brighton Museum to celebrate International Women's Day 2018. Enjoy stalls, talks, tasters and specially commissioned work reflecting on the issues raised throughout the day.
Pic By Jasmine L Dunne

In the summer of 1969, Clarice looks back on her turbulent life. Having experienced a sheltered upbringing, the events that followed have left her with a feeling that the world around her was moving too fast. 

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