Songs From Somewhere Else by The Hanging StarsRelease date: February 16, 2018
Label: Crimson Crow
What happens when you want to play country rock inspired music that is primarily rooted in the late Sixties psychedelia and early to mid-Seventies California soft-rock and you are not from California, Colorado, or somewhere in the Southern US, Oklahoma, let’s say?
These days that should be much easier, because such sounds can reach you practically anywhere, and you don’t have to be from London, like the five guys in The Hanging Stars, where such sounds where easier to be heard even when the original sounds were made.
Should be easy, shouldn’t it? You add a few parts of Arthur Lee’s Love, Gram Parsons, Neil Young, and any of the second tier Seventies bands (singer/songwriters) like Poco (a great band by the way), and great pop/rock that never made it during its time, like Big Star. Oh for good measure you can add some Spaghetti Western music, or something more modern like Calexico or even something from your side of the pond like Teenage Fanclub.
Easy? You’ve got to be kidding. Music is not making cocktails, you just don’t throw in parts, mix them up and then serve them. Anyway, even making cocktails is an art in itself. You not only have to have an extensive knowledge of all those musical styles, but you have to have a feel for them (and, again, knowledge) to be able to come up with something that will sound like something that can remotely stand on its own.
And that is exactly what The Hanging Stars were able to come up with on their second album Songs From Somewhere Else. While you can on some occasions credit that a certain album is successful because of all the collaborators, here it is not the case. The helms were in the hands of Brian O’Shaughnessey who worked with My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream and The Clientele and Miranda Lee Richards and two members of Brian Jonestown Massacre do chip in. But it is all The Hanging Stars main role, to the tune for example of songs on this album that are inspired by Western movies – ‘Mean Old Man’ and ‘Djupsjon’.
The Hanging Stars do run the gamut of all the above-mentioned sounds with great instrumental and vocal aplomb, whether it is the opener ‘On A Sweet Summer’s Day’, ‘Pick Up The Pieces’, ‘Dig A Hole’ or the closer ‘Water Hole’. The thing is that the band has fully involved itself into this music and made it its own, that there are practically no let-down or tracks that sound too similar to anybody else’s music.
In essence, these are definitely songs from somewhere else, but only by inspiration, The Hanging Stars have made them their own.