That's a band called Handsome Ransom. They're a folk group. And they're good.
So good, in fact, that their music, which was playing on our computer early evening last week, managed to halt our sons mid-step as they sped through the living room.
"What's that, daddy," Boy B asked.
We told him that they were a new band we'd happened across.
"Can I have it," he followed up with.
"Have the band? Like, in their entirety? Or do you mean the music?"
"Yes? Yes what, bro?"
"I have to go poop, daddy."
And that's the story of how Handsome Ransom became Artist of the Week. Interview ahead, including talk of flannels, the Acoustician Hypothesis and sitting in a car after the love of your life dies.
Rocks Off: Tell everyone everything they need to know about Handsome Ransom in exactly six words.
Handsome Ransom: "So handsome and talented you'll cry" was our first choice, but I guess we can settle on "Indie Folk Rock with a Message." We try our best for it to be as beautiful through your speakers as the words would look on paper, and we strive for an emotional experience with a fresh sound. Folk Rock is two words, right?
Listen to Open Robes by Handsome Ransom
RO: Did you guys give any consideration to maybe naming the band Ugly Ransom? Why didn't you go with that? You guys are just too pretty, huh? That's cool.
HR: We considered Ugly Ransom for a while and that's what we were all pulling for, but our singer threw a fit. Also, it doesn't rhyme so it really didn't stand a chance. The name came about pretty organically; our guitarist Justin was sitting around with his girlfriend and someone said it in a movie and they knew it needed to be the name of a band. "You know how much money that is? That's a handsome ransom."
RO: We listened to a fair amount of HR music. We'll tell you what we found the most mesmerizing: This thing:
It's so, so good. Has anyone ever not sounded absolutely brilliant during an acoustic show, or is it just that you guys are that tough?
HR: Tough-ness and bad assery aside, that was very early in our career as a band. Back then we only had the songs our vocalist Trey Miller had written independently, and all of these songs had a strong acoustic backbone. I think we all melted right into the framework and created something new. We, too, are extremely fond of this side of us and will always have tracks like this to represent us, but we are growing more and more proud of works that show a different side of our creative spectrum. Either way, fans have a lot of variety to look forward to. We try to capture as much of the raw emotion and personal energy as an acoustic show into every live performance, but find it exceptionally intimate at our acoustic appearances.
RO: Also, and we don't feel like we'd be doing the job if we didn't point this out, but everyone in that video is wearing a plaid button up shirt. Plaid Ransom, perhaps?
HR: We never mentioned it before? We are all lumberjacks when we aren't playing music, but with less tree chopping and more bear wrestling and beards. Plaid is almost like a uniform of the indie movement, you could say. It's the perfect balance of nonchalance and masculinity needed to play such nuanced and vulnerable music. There is an urban legend going around that at least one person in the band is wearing plaid at any given time.
RO: What is the ideal situation to listen to HR? If this were all a movie, I'd guess they'd play something by you guys while a guy sat in a motionless car while it was raining, while he was thinking about proposing to his girlfriend the next day, only to hear on the radio that the plane she was on crashed.
HR: In the car, in your room sitting on the floor with headphones, studying, eating... any time is a good time, but we might steal your idea for a song or video. That might be my favorite part of this band. We definitely have our 'my-girlfriend-slash-soon-to-be-fiance-just-died-in-a-horribly-painful-plane-crash-and-I-am-sad' songs (which now that you mention it defines our genre perfectly,) but if you skip two track you'll hear a song that feels like your first kiss. Like I said, the emotional aspects are the biggest reason these songs are getting written. It means the world to us that we made you feel like your girlfriend is dead.
RO: Where can we buy HR music?
HR: You can come out to see us at any of our shows and get a physical copy out of the back of our van, or you can just head on over to iTunes and download our EP.
RO: When is the next HR show?
HR: We are playing tomorrow night at Fitzgerald's and we have lots of other shows booked too: Jan 28 at Heights Vinyl will be an acoustic show, and we've put together some great bands to play at Scout Bar February 3rd. We make a lot of announcements on our Facebook page to keep our fans up to date.