No Quarter on Twitter




Family Band
"Grace and Lies" CD/LP
NOQ032 » Get it

Family Band

Family Band

Grace and Lies. On the surface, the two concepts couldn't seem more different. One of them restores, the other ruins. One of them forgives, the other deceives. But to hear Kim Krans, frontwoman for Family Band, tell it, the two aren't opposed -- they're intertwined. "Grace and Lies are two characters I envisioned last summer," she says, by way of explaining the haunting title track on the group's second record. "I couldn't get them out of my head. I saw them in a field behind our cabin, singing and slow dancing -- like ghosts, sort of. They're the rulers of beauty and false promises. And we all fall for them from time to time."

And therein lies the beautiful dichotomy of Family Band. A collaboration between visual-artist-turned-singer Kim Krans and her husband, onetime heavy-metal guitarist Jonny Ollsin (Children, S.T.R.E.E.T.S.), the merging of the couple's sensibilities makes for music that's simultaneously elegant and visceral. Their songs are as stark as bare trees in winter, Krans' baleful alto swooping mournfully over Ollsin's glimmering guitar like a black crow against a grey sky. As its title implies Grace & Lies is equal parts light and shadow, evoking the mystery and terror of early Cat Power, the ghostly aura of Warpaint, with whom Family Band toured in 2011, and the hushed longing of prime-era Cowboy Junkies. Though they explored similar territory -- both sonically and lyrically -- on their self-released debut, Miller Path, on Grace their canvas is wider -- the greys lusher, the blacks deeper. Assisted by bass and lapsteel player Scott Hirsch (Hiss Golden Messenger), the couple has made a record that boldly confronts life's darker questions. "Miller Path was recorded mostly at our cabin upstate, while Jonny was busy with his metal band and I was focused on my visual arts career," Krans explains. "It was my first time recording music and I didn't know how to steer the wheel. I didn't even know what the wheel was. But with Grace & Lies, we all decided what the overarching atmosphere and mood of the record should be. I made big drawings of each song in the control room, with all the parts and changes illustrated, and we built those visions with sound."

That meticulous planning is evident throughout. "Night Song" revolves around a single, dazzling guitar riff that spirals like stars in the night sky; "Ride" builds steadily to an ominous, spectacular finale, timpanis booming and guitars gathering like storm clouds in a clear sky; and "Again," which boasts production and instrumental work by Dan Rossen of Grizzly Bear, surges forward -- a roaring river beneath a sheet of ice. Grace & Lies is a document of a band staring down life's larger riddles -- love, death, loss and deceit.

Despite its dark subject matter, Grace is the product of a band coming comfortably into their own. "I felt like I was in a bliss period while making this record," Krans says. "I knew just enough about the recording process to feel empowered by it, but not so much that the technical aspects could override my intuition." Nowhere is that ease more apparent than in the gorgeous "Moonbeams," a steadily-building number shot through with raw longing, capturing all of love's profundity and uncertainty, its hymnlike refrain offering a kind of conditional reassurance. "I wanted to give people a song they could fucking weep to," Krans explains."

But for all of its lyrical intensity, Grace & Lies never feels oppressive or bleak. There is a current of beauty and hope beneath its fragile, delicate songs that glimmers like a gold coin at the bottom of a frozen pond. "It's a very dark record, lyrically," Krans admits, "And there's lots of heavy, brooding questions. But we've used an aesthetic veil - grace, if you will -- in order to talk about these things." And while Grace & Lies is not afraid to disappear into shadow, in the end, it's about understanding and growth. "In the end," Krans says, "This record is about learning to rewrite your own myth."

In addition to playing music, Kim and Jonny run The Wild Unknown, a renowned and celebrated company featuring Kim's artwork, illustrations and beyond. This summer they will host the 2nd annual Forest Party at their hand-built Miller Path, just outside Delhi, New York.


Night Song


Derek Becker
Strange Victory Touring

See also: