Mississippi’s contribution to ’90s slowcore, This Living Hand played haunting, downbeat songs that evoke a 3 a.m. of the soul. Founded by childhood friends Neilson Hubbard and Clay Jones (later joined by violinist Helen Lamb), the band self-released two albums as Spoon (not the Austin band of the same name) before adopting the name This Living Hand from a Keats poem. After adding drummer Garrison Starr, the band recorded Consolation Prize at Memphis’ legendary Easley Studios. With Hubbard’s songs and Jones’ arrangements, Consolation Prize is an album of magic languor and rare beauty that recalls downer classics by Galaxie 500, Codeine and Low. “Wookie” and the title track are gauzy, meandering arcs of sadness and longing suffused with Jones’ delicate creations of bells, organ and strings and Hubbard’s otherworldly wail.
After a short tour with Jack Logan, the band cut The TV Sounds Worried. While retaining the narcoleptic drift of Consolation Prize, the songs are more focused and structured (check out “Copilot” or the sublime “Astronaut”). Jones’ sensurround production and Hubbard’s Dean Wareham-on-ludes warble are both showcased to dazzling effect. A lost classic, The TV Sounds Worried went unissued even after promotional copies were circulated in advance of its scheduled release.
A singer-songwriter who had already done some recording on her own (and played Lilith Fair in 1997), Starr released the commercially minded Eighteen Over Me on Geffen. Hubbard’s solo debut, The Slide Project, is more auspicious. While not as powerful as his work with This Living Hand, The Slide Project contains some extraordinarily effusive pop moments (check out “Paper Star” or “End of Summer”) reminiscent of vintage Big Star. Jones co-produced her album and produced his, holding out hope that This Living Hand may live again.