The Handsome Family

The Handsome Family & Opinions on Lady Gaga

The Handsome Family gained wider notoriety for providing the theme to HBO's "True Detective". But the duo's dark, literate songwriting has been acclaimed by critics for decades. Rennie and Brett Sparks of The Handsome Family join Jim and Greg for a conversation and performance. Plus, a review of the new album from pop superstar Lady Gaga.

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The Handsome Family

This week, Jim and Greg talk with southwestern music duo The Handsome Family. The band is the husband-wife team of Brett and Rennie Sparks, and they are perhaps best known for providing the theme song for the first season of HBO's critically acclaimed drama True Detective. However, the duo had been a staple of the Chicago music scene, crafting artfully made albums that blend alternative country sounds with clever lyrics. Over 15 years ago, the Sparks left Chicago for a quieter life in New Mexico, which influenced their music by giving it a rich southwestern flavor. Brett and Rennie join Jim and Greg in the studio to talk about their latest album, Unseen, success with True Detective, and what it's like to be married to your music partner. They also perform three songs live in studio.

reviewJoanneJoanne available on iTunes

Lady Gaga Joanne

Lady Gaga needs almost no introduction at this point. A solo career that started about a decade ago on the dancefloor and the pop-charts has seen Gaga make some surprising choices in the spotlight (the meat dress) and in the studio (Cheek to Cheek, her duet album with Tony Bennett). Her latest album, called Joanne, finds her jumping across genres with a wide variety of collaborators (Beck, Josh Homme, Mark Ronson). While the album tries to be many things, it ultimately bores Jim. He finds the album scattered and“a mess”using the collaborators to try to find direction instead of using them to bring out her musical best. Jim says it's a trash it. Greg concurs. He thinks all the collaborators and genres are a continuation of her attempt to say“I'm a serious artist”that started with her Tony Bennett project. Instead, Greg says Joanne falls back on“nostalgia mongering”and results in a weak album. It is a double Trash It.



“I'm So Bored with the USA”The Clash

Jim's miniature society held their annual show recently, bringing together fellow tiny soldier geeks from all over the world. Jim's international friends often expressed bewilderment on how long we Americans drag out this grueling election process. Even the most patriotic Americans, regardless of politics, seem ready for the campaign to end. So Jim nominates a song for the Desert Island Jukebox that reflects that malaise: "I'm So Bored with the USA" from the 1977 debut from The Clash. It began as a Mick Jones-penned anti-love song called "I'm So Bored with You", but Joe Strummer misheard the lyrics and rewrote them to be more topical. The result is another classic melodic anthem from the punk pioneers.

Featured Songs

  1. The Handsome Family, Far From Any Road, Singing Bones, Carrot Top, 2003
  2. Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood, Sand, Nancy & Lee, Reprise, 1968
  3. The Handsome Family, Arlene, Odessa, Carrot Top, 1994
  4. The Handsome Family, Underneath the Falls, Unseen, Carrot Top, 2016
  5. The Handsome Family, Back in My Day (Live on Sound Opinions), Unseen, Carrot Top, 2016
  6. The Handsome Family, The Bottomless Hole, Singing Bones, Carrot Top, 2003
  7. The Handsome Family, Weightless Again, Through the Trees, Carrot Top, 1998
  8. The Handsome Family, So Much Wine, In the Air, Carrot Top, 2000
  9. The Handsome Family, Pony, Odessa, Carrot Top, 1994
  10. The Handsome Family, Ocotpus (Live on Sound Opinions), Wilderness, Carrot Top, 2013
  11. The Handsome Family, The Red Door, Unseen, Carrot Top, 2016
  12. The Handsome Family, King of Dust, Unseen, Carrot Top, 2016
  13. The Handsome Family, Gold (Live on Sound Opinions), Unseen, Carrot Top, 2016
  14. The Handsome Family, Frogs, Wilderness, Carrot Top, 2013
  15. Lady Gaga, Diamond Heart, Joanne, Interscope, 2016
  16. Lady Gaga, Joanne, Joanne, Interscope, 2016
  17. Lady Gaga, John Wayne, Joanne, Interscope, 2016
  18. Lady Gaga, Come to Mama, Joanne, Interscope, 2016
  19. The Clash, I'm So Bored with You, 5 Go Mad In The Roundhouse, unreleased, 1976
  20. The Clash, I'm So Bored with the USA, The Clash, CBS, 1977
  21. The Gospel Clefs, Open Our Eyes, Singing, Savoy, 1959
  22. Bob Dylan, Long Distance Operator, The Basement Tapes, Columbia, 1975
  23. Bob Dylan, Hallelujah (Live in Montreal, 1988), N/A, unreleased, 1988
  24. Lou Reed, Foot of Pride, Bob Dylan - The 30th Anniversary Concert Collection, Columbia, 1993
  25. Eddie Noack, Psycho, Psycho, K-Ark, 1968
  26. Randy Newman, In Germany Before the War, Little Criminals, Warner Bros., 1977
  27. The Buoys, Timothy, The Buoys, Scepter, 1971