For over twenty years the husband and wife duo of Brett and Rennie Sparks have been forging their own path along the dusty outskirts of Americana as The Handsome Family. Their sound has always been tough to pin down, although many have been known to call it Western gothic, which is fairly accurate. Save for getting their song “Far from Any Road” featured as the theme song for the first season of HBO’s True Detective, The Handsome Family have always managed to exist almost entirely within their own niche. That niche happens to be one filled with some of the darkest yet humorous and at times dreary lyrics ever written. All of this, of course, has made The Handsome Family something of a cult act, like traveling storytellers of yore that seem to carry a mystical aura. The duo has always possessed an oddly powerful gift for spinning tales about the darker crevices of life, and that is precisely what makes them so entertaining.
On September 16th The Handsome Family will release their eleventh full-length studio album, Unseen, via Milk & Scissors Music. The album continues in their tradition of gothic storytelling through songs, embracing things beyond life’s easy view: the slow dive of the sun, enormous bugs awakening in thorny yards, sirens, and coyotes that cry out to the purple sky. Today we are delighted to premiere a new video for one of the standout tracks on Unseen right here on Glide Magazine.
Featuring old footage from carnivals, the video for “Tiny Tina” is as creepy as you would expect a video from The Handsome Family to be. It’s also strangely soothing, but maybe that’s the music itself, which feels suited for the video footage and brings to mind an Appalachian folk duo at the county fair.
What’s perhaps most intriguing about “Tiny Tina” is the story behind it, which is best summed up by the band themselves:
“‘Tiny Tina’ was a song that took years to write. At first it was about the world’s largest ball of twine and then a pancake eating contest. Finally the song began to buck and rear and at last I realized it was about a little horse. It’s a song about the sadness of carnivals. Beyond the blinking glitter there is always real life waiting for you to return. Funnel cakes can only make us forget our sorrows temporarily. Is this why I was afraid to go see the world’s smallest horse? I did see the world’s largest jack rabbit once. It was wrought of cement and disappointment. I found out what rattlesnake eggs were on that trip too as well as ghost poop (styrofoam peanuts in a baggie). Oh, the heartache of shattered dreams. This video is public domain footage from some pretty dismal carnivals. Enjoy.”
The Handsome Family release Unseen on September 16th. For more music, info, and tour dates visit handsomefamily.com.
Photo by Brandon Soder.