Before PJ20 neither goof nor I knew who Star Anna was. When the lineup was made public, the bands that were interesting  to us popped out immediately: Glen Hansard, Liam Finn, and Queens of the Stone Age. Hansard turned us when he performed a mic-less version of Sleepless Nights with Ed in Hartford, Finn IS mojo, and Queens of the Stone Age has had our ear since Songs for the Deaf. But going through the rest of the list otherwise seemed like an exercise in how not to name a band. The Young Evils? thenewno2? What’s that, like a new kind of pencil used for Scantron tests? The cheap jokes write themselves. Who were these people?  And who the hell is Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs? Clearly a veterinarian started a band and trained her clients to play instruments.

As the lead off band, Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs played through torrential rain on the first day of PJ20. We missed it. Because it was pouring. Plus our pal Dirty Mike rocks a wheelchair and the thought of sloping, slippery hills, momentum, and wheels while amusing at first, was terrifying enough to keep us away until the late afternoon. Turns out we weren’t the only ones. Alpine Valley was vacant until the rain subsided.

On the second day of PJ20, we showed up early. Having missed half the day the day before, we wanted to get our money’s worth. Star Anna again went on at noon. We got there at 11:45am. On the way to the venue we joked about getting there too early to see the shitty bands and that the day didn’t really start until Queens of the Stone Age went on. We sounded like assholes.

When we reached what Mike called “the ‘tardo deck”, the viewing platform for the handicapped, we plopped ourselves down to only incidentally listen to Star Anna. The band launched into For When I Go. Holy hand grenade of Antioch! You know the phrase “took my breath away”? No one under 70 uses it anymore because it puts the wind bag at risk of sounding like a hyperbolic wind bag. Lame. But Star Anna literally took our breath away.

Here’s the top 5 reasons you should listen to Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs:

1. For When I Go
Before you read another word, click play on the video below. No really. Go. We’ll wait. It’s a video from PJ20 of Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs performing “For When I Go”, a bluesy, evocative number from their most recent album, Alone in this Together. You could stop reading this article right now and goof and I would feel like we’ve done our job.

2. 5 Minutes to Midnight
Still here? Ok let’s move on. From their first album, Crooked Path, this version is from a show at the Tractor Tavern on November 13th, 2007. Goof and I recommend you play this song to get your lady-friend in the mood. If you’re not into that, any friend will do.

3. Devil Don’t Remember My Name
There are a few videos on YouTube of this song, but the best live version is from a show on KEXP in March 2012 where Mike McCready joined Star Anna for a 4-song set. It’s on gremmie radio, but you can download it directly here.

4. Alone in this Together
There’s an official video for this song you can find here, but goof and I think this song shines brighter live. Below is a version from a set the band played on KEXP, a Seattle radio station, in August 2011. This song is from their album Alone in this Together. Duh.

5. Black Cat Blues
When goof and I first heard of this song we figured it was a cover of a blues standard. Doesn’t the title elicit the image of a dusty blues man with a leathery face hammering the blues? Like Sam Jackson in Black Snake Moan. It’s not a cover. From their first album, Crooked Path; it requires patience at 6 minutes long but the payoff is worth the wait.

post-script: all of these songs can be found on gremmie radio in mp3 format for your listening and download(ing?) pleasure.

       

      5 Responses to the High 5: Why You Should Listen to Star Anna

      1. PW says:

        “For When I Go” has a little “Come Back” to it, no? I like it. Really good bluesy song. Good stuff!!

      2. Helge says:

        I think the phrase “take my breath away” (and its past-tense derivations…) is officially banned since Top Gun.
        But yeah, I see your point, she’s amazing.

        There’s this lovely clip on her page doing a living-room-make-up-show, that’s definitely worth listening, too!

        • gremmie says:

          Helge,

          I ALMOST included a reference to that Top Gun song in the article but I didn’t think everyone would get the joke. Hahahaha. Thanks for bringing it up! As for the Nanuet show (living room), I may host it at some point.

      3. mark says:

        How did I miss these guys at PJ20?? Great band. Thanks!

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