Ellensburg, Washington's Star Anna & the Laughing Dogs is a rock/alt country band that is likely to garner a lot of recognition in the next few years. Formed in 2006, the band released a rootsy album named Crooked Path in 2010 that was well-received in the Pacific Northwest. In July the band released Alone In This Together, which retains a rootsy feel while amping up the rock intensity. The focal point is Star Anna's bruised, aching vocals, full of passion and devoid of contrivance. But the band -- Justin Davis, Travis Yost, Keith Ash, Ty Bailie (and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam played guitar on tracks 3, 5, and 7) -- provides the foundation that makes it work. This isn't a singer-songwriter project with hired musicians in the backdrop; this is a tight, organic music machine.
Here is the album opening track, the restrained "Shine"
I don’t make things any easier I know
I can’t even say I do the best I can
Though I’d like to say I tried
I’m afraid it’d be just one more lie
I’ve given too much of myself to bad years
My memory is too full of sad times
To my aching heart tonight
I’ll make this promise to make it right
and clear some space for joy
Star Anna & The Laughing Dogs - Shine by Burn and Shiver
There are no weak tracks on this album, and it has about an honest a feel as you are going to find among recent releases. If you like Americana/alt-country rock, and especially if you like it dark, emotional and authentic, this band should be on your short list to check out. Ultimately, the test is in the music and your reaction to it. But it doesn't hurt to consider the opinion of others. In addition to considerable praise from the music press, one should give weight to the support (he financed the recording) of McCready and the faith of the great Rachel Flotard in signing the band to her Local 638 Records.
Title track, "Alone In This Together"
Local 638 Records