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The Hanging Stars Hollow Heart LP

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The Hanging Stars HOLLOW HEART. Loose

The Band

Richard Olson - vocals, guitar, percussion
Sam Ferman - bass, vocals
Paulie Cobra - drums
Patrick Ralla - guitars, keyboards, vocals, piano, solina
Joe Harvey-Whyte - pedal steel, guitars, glockenspiel, philicorda

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Review

In these dismal days great music has the ability offset some of the dread, disappointment and anger. The Hanging Stars have created such an antidote that harks back to more peaceful times with music that echoes the sounds and vibes of past great bands that majored in psychedelic folk and gentle country. ‘Ava’ opens the treat with an elongated guitar chord and swaying peddle slide that reminds of something from a Lynch movie. Then the drums join in the march together with some magical guitar riffs that underpin the song. The echoed vocal is a welcome throwback that matches the gorgeous instrumental backdrop. There’s a monster melody with powerful choruses and vocal harmonies. Lyrics are pretty good too:

Ava, it’s a beautiful thing
The words you say the songs you choose to sing
Lately, I’ve been out of my mind
Since you walked in and turned me upside down

Radio beckons with this little beauty! ‘Black Light Night’ hits the bullseye again with another strong melody and instrumental choruses made in rock heaven. ‘Weep & Whisper’ features extended, gorgeous instrumental passages with loads of country and psychedelic folk sounds delivered with care and a gentle pace. The solo and harmonies are delivered with pinpoint accuracy and effect. Radio song number 3 with echoes of the Beatles added to the mix. ‘Radio On’ delivers a slow, rockier vibe with Olson’s somewhat detached vocal dominating. The song offers another very strong melody. ‘Ballad Of Whatever May Be’ featured some adventurous and highly effective instrumentals alongside lyrics that count:

Light the fire bright before the sun goes down
Learn to stand your ground before the stone rolls down

Dream your dream at night before the morning comes
Sing your song out loud before they shut you down

Open up your eyes before they shut the blinds

Finish up your wine before the glass runs dry

‘Hollow Eyes, Hollow Heart’ is one of the more dramatic, darker songs here that takes a rockier route while the folk vibe is still present and fits with everything else. ‘You’re So Free’ delivers a diverse, more mainstream sound and is another example of how the production has brought out the very best of this excellent record. 10 tracks, 10 successes, well-judged sonic diversity including a strong country vibe and talking vocals on ‘Rainbow In Windows’. Essential LISTENING to anyone who values great, accessible music.

4.5/5

https://thehangingstars.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thehangingstars/

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Background

London’s The Hanging Stars have released their second single, the ethereal ‘Black Light Night’ laden with haunting harmonies, from their latest album, HOLLOW HEART.

Watch the accompanying video, directed by Julian Hand below, shot through a widescreen lens of phased guitars, driving drums and celestial strings while overlooking a sunset so enthralling that space and time went out the window for just a little short while, explains frontman Richard Olson.

Watch/share the video for ‘Black Light Night’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=122HX2L-_bw

In spite of the bucolic setting of the Clashnarrow studio in the Scottish highlands we still managed to conjure up just a little bit of the claustrophobia, horror and paranoia that lies at the spirit of the lyrics. The lyrics in turn refer to the morning after a particularly long night at our main hangout in London, The Betsey Trotwood, says Olson, “The wistful tune with a thousand yard stare was written by guitarist Patrick Ralla and had been doing the rounds with us for a good while, but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon some lyrics hidden far and deep down in my notebook it started to make sense.” He adds, “When we were tracking the last few bits on the song Edwyn Collins turned up from his home down the hill. All he said was Radio 1.”

With their latest album, The Hanging Stars transcend their reputation for a captivating meld of psychedelic folk and harmony-laden country. The fourth album from the accomplished London five-piece; recorded at Edwyn Collins Clashnarrow Studios in North-Eastern Scotland; reaches fresh artistic heights, as they conjure a record more sonically varied, more contemporary, and less in awe of its influences.

With producer Sean Read (Soulsavers, Dexys) the band’s singer and guitarist Richard Olson, bassist Sam Ferman, drummer Paulie Cobra, Patrick Ralla on guitars and keyboards, and the in-demand pedal steel player Joe Harvey-Whyte - embarked on a two-day drive to reach Helmsdale, and the unique studio sitting on a cliff overlooking the North Sea, on the same latitude as Gothenburg, and with the smell of Scandinavia on the air.

‘Ava’ opens the album with an unhurried smoulder of steel and string, so right the extent of its unfolding surprises; voice, guitars, and resolute drums may break the reverie but attention is snared. Through ‘Black Light Night’ harsh cold turkey pop and ‘Weep & Whisper’ near-ambient soft-focus, to the celestial shoegaze wash of ‘Rainbows On Windows’ and the divine lo-fi wonkiness of ‘Red Autumn Leaf’ a sonic surety prevails.

UK Tour Dates:

May 27th - Liverpool, St Michael in the Hamlet Church
June 5th - Portsmouth, The Wedgwood Rooms
July 2nd - Easton, Maverick Festival


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