LONGEVITY will do a lot for you. Stick around long enough, and all the shit that used to surround you will eventually fall away. And if you're good enough, you'll rise. Case in point: Sparklehorse. A Mark Linkous written/played/recorded musical project that's been kickin' up dust since 1995's oh-so-brilliant Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot, Sparklehorse had critics and kids bragging for rights when Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain was quietly released late last year. Sold out shows in Europe and the US followed. And when Linkous and his new backing band hit the Wonder Ballroom, there better not be a single ticket left standing at the door. Quite frankly, Sparklehorse is the shit.

But like anything good, there's a contradiction in Sparklehorse. The myth that has been created around Linkous tends to overshadow his work. He lives and records on a farm. His only friends are horses. He was declared clinically dead before his greatest work, 1999's Good Morning Spider, and the lyrics on that album (supposedly) foreshadowed his death. Truth, lies? Depression, drugs, loneliness, and alienation. The makings of a great artist or modern drivel?

Calling from Austin, Linkous says both. "Things feel fine right now," he says. "I'm better off now than I've been over the last three years. I love my new band. The shows are great. So I guess I'm just kinda waitin' for something bad to happen."

Thus, Sparklehorse. While Dreamt for Light Years may not be his best work overall, it's damn near close. Eerie, gorgeous, it took Linkous four years to put it together. And it nearly didn't come out.

"I guess I kind of just thought that everyone had forgotten about me and moved on," says Linkous, in a soft, sweet Virginian accent. "I'm glad they didn't."