Head of Femur

Head of Femur


Beach Boys meet Brian Eno meets The Band meets Camper Van Beethoven.


In November 2001, three Nebraska natives got together in Chicago to form a straightforward pop outfit while waiting for the reformation of their previous band, the beautifully frenzied Pablo’s Triangle. However, Matt Focht (vocals, guitar, percussion), Ben Armstrong (keyboards, drums, vocals, bass) and Mike Elsener (guitar, vocals, bass) found that the quality of their new material was surprisingly high, and they began to recruit musicians for an entirely new venture called Head of Femur. Fast forward to 2005 and the band’s sophomore album, “Hysterical Stars.” The band has expanded into a sprawling octet on stage, and the album features no less than twenty-eight musicians, including members of Bright Eyes, Mayday, The Flying
Luttenbachers, Hella, Bobby Conn and The Glass Gypsies, The Sea and Cake, and The Glenn Miller Orchestra.

“Hysterical Stars” was mixed and recorded at Chicago’s Wall to Wall Studios with engineers Chris Brickley (Wilco, R. Kelly) and Dan Dietrich. The album kicks off with the trumpeting “Elliott Gould Is In California Split”, an instantly catchy introduction to the multifaceted charm of Head of Femur. Tracks like “Do the Cavern” and “Easy Street” highlight the band’s talent for bringing strings, horns, and percussion into quirky pop songs. The band’s softer side is showcased on the poignant “Manhattan” and the delicate, piano-driven “Oh You’re Blue.” While some of the band’s many influences: The Talking Heads, Brian Eno, The Flaming Lips, to name a few, shine through on “Hysterical Stars”, their overall sound is one of a kind.

Head of Femur has come a long way since the release of their debut album “Ringodom or Proctor” on Portland’s Greyday Productions in 2003. The record was received with rave reviews, and the band spent the next year playing shows with bands such as Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley, Deerhoof, and M. Ward. On the strength of “Ringodom” and their phenomal, frenetic live show, the band signed to spinART in the summer of 2004 and set about recording “Hysterical Stars.” Wasting no time upon its completion, they kicked off 2005 with a four-song EP on iTunes and a string of well-received shows opening for fellow Chicagoans
Wilco. Head of Femur will be bringing their live show all across the U.S. this summer, inspiring massive head-bopping and begging the question: How do they fit that many people into one van?

It’s likely that you won’t hear another record like “Hysterical Stars” this year, and with good reason. Head of Femur have outdone themselves and created an album that is both intelligent and fun, orchestral without being overloaded, and above all, refreshing. In a scene where having a “the” in front of your name is a sign of stature and most “spontaneity” is well- rehearsed, Head of Femur are making it look cool to have fun again.


Ringodom or Proctor (Greyday Productions) 2003
Hysterical Stars (SpinART records) 2005

Set List

Elliott Gould in in California Split
Ringodom or Proctor
The Sausage Canoe
Song for Richard Manuel
Do the Cavern
80 Steps to Johna
The True Wheel
Acme: The Summit of a Mountain
Curve that Byrd