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London-based psych-folk-country quintet The Hanging Stars will release their second album Songs For Somewhere Else in February 2018. Taking cues from both sides of the Atlantic, they mainline the dying embers of the early 70s psychedelic folk and cosmic country scenes, transforming them into an energized new sound for our times. As the title suggests, the album is about escapism from the everyday, against the cynicism and greed that pervades society.
This album follows on from their critically acclaimed 2016 debut Over The Silvery Lake, which received praise from The Times, who described it as; "An album with enough of a hazy, sun-dappled charm to make the capital's dreariest weather bearable”, as well as Uncut, who proclaimed that it was; "a promising debut from London's The Hanging Stars, who switch deftly between deliciously sentimental Americana and swaggering psychedelia”. They picked up a good amount of support at Radio 2 and 6 Music, with lead single “The House on the Hill” scoring a much-coveted 10/10 by John Robb on Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable.
The new album is more varied than its predecessor and sees them expanding into new territories whilst continuing to channel an English wistful ethereality grown from American soil. Tracing their inspiration from Dennis Wilson to Gram Parsons and On The Beach era Neil Young, they equally draw from early gospel soaked Spiritualized, jangle pop, spaghetti western soundtracks (“Mean Old Man”), old Bossa Nova records (“Water Song”) and prohibition-era blues (“Too Many Wired Hours”).
The recording for Songs For Somewhere Else commenced prior to the release of Over The Silvery Lake and captures the development of a band who had toured Europe in the winter of 2015/16, and went on to play coveted support slots with Teenage Fanclub, The Clientele, Wolf People and GospelbeacH, as well as Liverpool’s International Festival of Psychedelia. Joining founding members – songwriter, singer and guitarist Richard Olson (The See See, Eighteenth Day of May), Sam Ferman on bass and Paulie Cobra on drums – were contributions from now permanent members Patrick Ralla (Alan Tyler Show, Edwyn Collins) on guitars, keys and vocals, and Joe Harvey-White (pedal steel, dobro), bringing new perspectives to the bands’ work.
Recording was again conducted at the legendary Bark Studios in Walthamstow with Brian O'Shaughnessey (The Clientele, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine) at the helm. They had a collective attitude to performances on the album, with additional input from US friends Collin Hegna (Federale, Brian Jonestown Massacre), Miranda Lee Richards (on the emotive duet “How I Got This Way”), and Christof Certik (Brian Jonestown Massacre, Winter Flowers), as well as Alison Cotton on viola (Left Outsides, Eighteenth Day Of May), Luke Barlow (Nought) on flute and Thomas Wake on clarinet.
Touching on themes of fear of pain, death and failure, the songs strike a rich emotional chord. From the pensive melancholia of album opener “On A Sweet Summer’s Day”, to the Big Star tinged lead single “Honeywater” and the gorgeous instrumental “Djupsjön”, inspired by the dense Southern Swedish pines of Olson’s childhood, the album is a varied delight. “For You (My Blue Eyed Son)” is co-written by Patrick Ralla and is perhaps the most traditionally country song on the album, with two-part lead vocal continuing throughout, supported by finger-picked guitars and classic drum shuffle, whilst “Dig A Hole” has the rare combination of being part shoegaze and part country, enhanced by gorgeous brass interludes, hinting at old miners brass bands of northern England.
With this album, The Hanging Stars usher the next phase of their musical development, with Olson’s astute lyrical observations and honeyed vocals at the fore, backed by the band’s creative musical arrangements. These aren’t just songs for somewhere else, they are songs for right here and right now. The perfect timeless antidote to these troubling times.
Barry says: Subtly psychedelic but imbued with hazy, rich Americana strings and beautifully emotive slide guitar. Feel-good alt-folk melodies meet classic indie melodies in classic Hanging Stars style. Get on it.
1) On A Sweet Summer’s Day
2) Too Many Wired Hours
3) How I Got This Way
4) Mean Old Man
5) Pick Up The Pieces
8) For You (My Blue Eyed Son)
9) Hold Out Your Hand
10) Dig A Hole
11) How I Got This Way (Reprise)
12) Water Song