Fast being established and recognised as more than just a side-project of The See See’s frontman Richard Olson – through extensive touring and the construction of a full-length release now set to appear in early-2016 – this three-track EP from The Hanging Stars captures the band consolidating and expanding upon the sound forged for a preceding 7” single from earlier this year. Whilst it still doesn’t dramatically detach the group from The See See’s well-drilled retro-pop templates, The House On The Hill EP manages to more deeply explore ruralist cosmic Americana expanses.
Thus, the titular-track unashamedly yet affectionately plunders from Creedence Clearwater Revival and Clarence White-era Byrds as well as skilfully squeezing in some desert-baked Calexico-flavoured twanging and galloping. For the first flipside of “Endlessly Aimless” the tempo is dropped a good few notches for a pedal steel smeared and harmony-rich early-‘70s Californian folk-rock reverie. The three-part extended-player is rounded off with a cover of The Gun Club’s “Mother Of Earth”, from 1982’s Miami LP. Whilst The Hanging Stars’ reinterpretation may swap some of the stark Link Wray-like guitar gait and the eerie vocal gravitas of the Jeffrey Lee Pierce-led original for a balmier countrified Sweetheart Of The Rodeo-meets-The Fabulous Johnny Cash indebted take, the song’s doom-cast epic reach is satisfyingly honoured.
Although The House On The Hill EP doesn’t ultimately proffer anything truly radical, its well-read craftsmanship confirms that The Hanging Stars are pastoral-rock practitioners working under the influence of a thoughtful range of self-prescriptions.