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Danielson Famile

The man at the Danielson Famile tiller is Daniel Smith, the eldest member of the Smith brood, who was weaned on his father's Clarksboro, NJ home worship services, which featured an American gospel-dominated "songtime." Now, naturally Smith grew up and soaked in a bunch of other cultural influences, but the familial spirit of those musical prayer meetings never left him, so it figured that his senior thesis project at Rutgers University celebrated that upbringing. The thesis was a piece of recorded music featuring Smith and his numerous siblings, which eventually became the first Danielson Famile album, A Prayer for Every Hour (1995). After that release, Smith was off and running, assembling a series of eclectic recordings throughout the '90s.

And eclectic is definitely the word. The only constants are Smith's manic falsetto (like a frightening combination of Black Francis and Jeff Mangum), the sweetly innocent backing voices of his siblings, and a sense of bizarre vaudeville. The Famile's songs feature a little of everything -- gospel, folk, blues, indie rock, No Wave, children's lullabies, and so on. A few of the many other noteworthy families recalled by the Danielson Famile's musical sensibilities are the Carter Family, the Jackson 5, the The Partridge Family, Sly and the Family Stone, and the Mothers of Invention. No joke! And, as you might expect, Christianity is a prevalent theme throughout the Famile's material, not in any conventional way -- Amy Grant this definitely ain't -- but in a decidedly sincere way. Truly, Smith and siblings have to be heard to believed. Apparently they also have to be seen to be believed, as their electrifying, hair-raising live shows have already become the stuff of legend.

"Good News for the Pus Pickers" and "Rallying the Dominoes" appear on the group's fifth album (and first on Secretly Canadian; their previous releases were all from Tooth & Nail), 2001's Fetch the Compass Kids. In March of 2001, the Danielson Famile again made a splash by teaming with hip shoemaker John Fluevog for a new model of cool kicks, the "Familevog," which are being sold packaged with the Famile's single "Flip Flop Flim Flam."

Midway through 2002, Secretly Canadian reissued the Famile's lost debut classic, A Prayer for Every Hour, which features "Nice of Me." "Who Are Parents" is a Shaggs cover from the 2002 Animal World tribute album, Better Than the Beatles: A Tribute to the Shaggs.