The Hanging Stars are from grim old London but make the sort of sun dappled 60's and '70s influenced psychedelic folk and cosmic country that you usually find emanating from the other side of the atlantic. Here they follow up their much loved debut 'Over the Silvery Lake' with another batch of timeless, hazi Americana (but from England).
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I'm really getting frustrated by this album by Hanging Stars. When it's good it's particularly brilliant but they keep putting flies in my ointment preventing my full enjoyment of the album as a whole. There's certainly the sense that early on the band try too hard to be eclectic rather than maintain the exquisite moods they are capable of creating.
Compare the beautiful Byrdsian jangle of opener 'On a Sweet Summer's Day' which sort of re-writes 'Draft Morning' adding extra guitar spangle and lush harmonies. It settles you into a lovely mood of 60's haze which is immediately disrupted by 'Too Many Wired Hours' - a noir-ish shuffle that recalls some of the La's more discordant offerings. It could all be a matter of sequencing as had they followed 'On A Sweet Summer's Day' with the lovely pedal steel drenched 'How I Got This Way' I would still be in that mood of jangle-pop excellence. But then 'Mean Old Man' comes along - part Morricone, part Arctic Monkeys - to stir things up again.
So I'm on edge. Each time I find a track I like something comes along to put me back in my place. That said over a 12 track record there's still much to enjoy. Best is 'Honeywater' which is almost outrageously in thrall to Big Star but sets their post the Beatles yearning against a country-ish bedrock. An utterly gorgeous track and one of the best things I've heard all year. Elsewhere we get Simon & Garfunkel ish plucking ("For You (My Blue Eyed Son"), a lovely lolloping the Band-esque composition in 'Hold Out Your Hand' and the tearful country-pop of 'Dig A Hole'.
A talented collective no doubt who play their 60's influenced Laurel Canyon folk pop with style and excellence....but I'm still annoyed. I'll just have to sequence my own version of the album up without the harsher bits. My ears are as soft as lace it seems.
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