The Hanging Stars
Do you enjoy being baffled? I love it. A fact, factoid, truth or information that can make my brain feel like it wants to somersault in my skull is very enjoyable. Ever heard of carcinisation? It is when animals eventually evolve into crabs. Yes, crabs. And apparently throughout Earth's life, this has happened five times. Crabs keep popping up and tossing a crustacean-y middle finger to catastrophic extinction events. So, we're meant to have crabs or become them, so let's embrace it.
Do you know what is NOT like crabs? Country music. In high contrast, the current evolutionary step modern country music has reached to, has unfortunately hit the pop music wall of unidentical personalities and writing styles. Though there are genuine alternatives like Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton, the latest album from London's five-piece, The Hanging Stars, can stand amongst those contemporaries. Overall, the album offers breadth in sound with helpful doses of ‘60s psychedelic, modern folk, and shoegaze, unafraid to stray from a stagnant genre's wide and congested path.
When I was tasked for reviewing Hollow Heart, I'll admit there was slight trepidation on being as subjective as possible to responding to a form-of-country band, because the hint of "country" conjures painful ideas of recent devolution of the genre. But here I sit, honestly in great contentment finding aspects that die-hards and fans of other bands can larch onto. If you like classic rock, fans of The Band to Jefferson Airplane to Tom Petty can find familiar vibes to days past. Gen X-ers with allegiance to Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins and Swervedriver would enjoy the sonic spaces provided by The Hanging Stars' shoegaze-y tendencies.
You see? Its fun being baffled and surprised. A testament to the idea of saying 'yes' to things and knowing there is so much music, and quality music, being released that you and I are bound to find auditory redemption in genres we would otherwise not give a second thought about. The closing track, ‘Red Autumn Leaf’, effortlessly brings hypnotism and twang together into a reverb-y wash, easing you back into the opening track, ‘Ava’. Acoustic guitar on the rhythm and slick guitar leads are reminiscent to this Canadian of Tragically Hip, infiltrating freshwater lake waves while vacationing at an Ontarioan cottage. Don't worry my fellow Brits, that's a compliment.
Other highlights from Loose are the classic country inspired Weep & Whisper and its eclectic instrumentation, along with Hollow Eyes, Hollow Heart and its fuzzy and sitar-mimic'd leads over the upbeat backing band. The Hanging Stars' latest effort puts their best foot forward, balanced but spacey, unoffensive but youthful, vintage but a breath of fresh air to an evolutionary branch of a genre overshadowed by it's plastic, modern contemporaries.
9 / 10