Tragedy has a way of making you revisit something, and not without guilt; I have to admit I hadn't listened to House of Freaks' Cakewalk or Tantilla for almost ten years when I heard that 1/2 of House of Freaks, Bryan Harvey, had been murdered along with his wife and toddler daughters in their Richmond Va home over this past New Year's eve.
It's a general sin of kismet that Harvey gets it and not JD Fortune. An ok, I confess HoFs' last effort, 'Invisible Jewel' was weak and after-the-fact sounding, despite the addition of Steve Wynn of the overrated Dream Syndicate as a return favor for Harvey's efforts with Wynn's nice-try but-no-cigar 90s band, Gutterball.
House of Freaks traded in that late 80s Americana stuff, the turf covered by the Long Ryders, the Brandos, or even REM. As a two-man show, they paved some of the way for the duo-chic of the Oughts, ie Black Keys and White Stripes and Brown Turds. Drummer Johnny Hott is a virtuoso, and Harvey easily transcended his sometimes too-vague lyrics by the strength of his melodies.
House of Freaks can also tide me over if the forthcoming Calexico album is as straight-up boring as Feast of Wire was; if they, or anyone, releases another glorified EP with filler instrumentals and call it an album, I'm gonna stop listening to music, shave my head, and wear nothing but Izod. Without a math-rock beard.