John Ringhofer, a.k.a. Half-Handed Cloud, gives the impression of being a bit of an eccentric. He turns his songs into a series of sacred psalms and then spears the sentiments with an irrepressible blend of wit and whimsy. At less than 30 minutes long, Halos & Lassos
unfolds in a tethered cycle of 19 quirky, kinetic and decidedly off-kilter parables that imagine prophets riding public transportation and love affairs with the Lord that distinguish no divide between the spiritual and the secular. If this sounds somewhat bizarre, well, it is, especially as underscored by Ringhofer's childlike vocals and the precocious blend of banjos, pianos, guitars, marimbas, clarinets, trumpets and an odd synthesized contraption called an Omnichord. The influences of Smile
and Sgt. Pepper
run rampant, but Ringhofer's association with musical eccentric Sufjan Stevens (he plays trombone in Stevens' Illinoisemakers) also holds sway, given that "Rise to the Heavens on Evaporation," "They're Bad, but We're Worse" and "Eyes Peeled" show obvious similarities in their disarming delivery. Wacky yet reverent, this humble, homespun affair puts a bit of odd in God.