The Hanging Stars are British and yet they probably own a few Eagles albums among them. To me, that is just pure craziness, obviously. That they are not memorizing Auteurs and Morrissey lyrics seems like heresy to me but, hey, these English gentlemen are drawn instead to the sounds of America. And on their new album, Over The Silvery Lake, out Friday, The Hanging Stars hit on a sort of refinement of the Americana that The Byrds and others perfected a few generations ago. That The Hanging Stars sound "American" here is probably a huge compliment to the band. So be it. I won't hold that against them.
On the supberb "Cure Your Ills" the band offer up rich harmonies that recall a past populated by bands like The Beau Brummels, the retro vocals carrying the song into the future. "For A While" sounds a tiny bit like The Jayhawks, as do quite a few cuts on Over The Silvery Lake, while the intricate and trippy "Rainmaker, Sunseeker" nods in the direction of Pink Floyd (at least the Floyd in that period between the Syd stuff and the Dark Side of the Moon). "The House on the Hill" marries a nearly-Tex-Mex guitar-line with vocals deep in the mix to produce something close to what Temples do so well but more melodic and less psychedelic. "I'm No Good Without You" recalls late period Teenage Fanclub in their Big Star phase. Like the Fannies, The Hanging Stars take the warm music of that earlier era to make songs that are comforting and vaguely haunting.
Over The Silvery Lake is a throwback to an era when singer-songwriters ruled airwaves and one could reliably be soothed by the musicianship of those riding the upper reaches of the charts. Without a lot of pretension, The Hanging Stars make vaguely rustic versions of what we once called Americana and I was quite charmed by most of what I heard here.
Over The Silvery Lake by The Hanging Stars is out on Friday. Find out more details on the band's official website.