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Rating: 8.5/10
 
One of the great Holy Grails of the modern-age record store employee is discovering a doppelgänger group. Not to be confused with a fusion or hybrid band (i.e. Audioslave, Velvet Revolver, Hell Yeah, Army of Anyone), a doppelgänger band is a collective that bears such a striking sonic similitude to another group that you can essentially exist in a state of perpetual new music between the two… an example (that may not appeal to most) would be Nickelback and Theory of a Deadman. Staying true to the doppelgänger definition, they are not necessarily a carbon copy- but different sides of a similar psyche.
 
Finding a decent doppelgänger group is nearly impossible- and if you do, often times one of the bands is merely aping their predecessor. If you were lucky enough to discover a doppelgänger for one of your top five or top ten bands, you had reached nirvana (that’s the state, not the band).
 
While my record store days have long since past, my pursuits of the time have endured into my position as a music advocate. As such, it is with great delight that I introduce you good folks to Shooting Stansfield, an Edinburgh-based quartet that have helped me to fulfill a dream of discovering a doppelgänger.
 
In their description of their influences, Shooting Stansfield first list Frightened Rabbit… and their reason for doing so is instantly obvious when you hear their sound. Lead vocalist/guitarist Stewart Douglas’ timbre is so evocative of Scott Hutchison (the accent certainly helps as well- as both lads are Scottish to the bone) that you’d swear the two were one and the same. Not only that, but Stansfield’s brand of atmospheric indie rock falls perfectly in line with groups like Band of Horses, The National and Bright Eyes that were you to label their forthcoming EP, We Know Not What We Do, as a Frightened Rabbit release no one would question it.
 

 
Now, as is always the case when I begin with comparisons, the two bands don’t possess wholly identical sounds. As with any form of expression, there are layers, textures, tones and tinges that are completely unique to both groups. With that said, the similarities are numerous and the resemblance uncanny. Shooting Stansfield’s songs are coiled springs of atmospheric tension that mounts with every passing phrase, culminating in lush and elaborate choruses that are both triumphant and singable beyond belief. Like Rabbit, their lyrical content is metaphysical and brilliantly serpentine. Both bands provide a lavish listening experience; an auditory banquet for your ears to feast on.
 
For a bit of contrast, it sounds strange to say that Stansfield is more structured than Rabbit is- but I think it’s an apt description. While Hutchison’s compositions may meander on certain albums, Shooting Stansfield’s songs possess a bullet’s trajectory with a sonic snowball-effect, allowing an accumulation of atmosphere as every track progresses. Their dexterity with dynamic is evocative of early Coldplay tunes, with their folk-rock sensibility taking lead on many of the tracks on We Know Not What We Do.
 
Capitalizing on the EP format and employing a stunning sense of melody, the group creates an incredibly engaging sound-scape that is absolutely unrelenting throughout the record. There is no letdown at all in the entire 20-plus minute running time.
 
This EP is a must-have for folk-rock fans. Poetic (and profoundly socially conscious) lyrical content is conveyed with mellifluous melody, drizzled atop jangling rhythm guitar, sonorous bass and ghostly electric arpeggios to create a sound that will haunt you long after listening.
 
With an upcoming debut full-length album in the making and plans for a release and tour beyond We Know Not What We Do, we’re sure to be hearing much more from Shooting Stansfield in the coming year… and I, for one, am absolutely elated. Now, if I can somehow coerce them into staggering their releases in collusion with Frightened Rabbit’s album/EP melange, I will finally be living the dream that Barry promised in High Fidelity. “How about the Jesus and Mary Chain? They picked up where your precious Echo left off, and you’re sitting around complaining about no more Echo albums.”
 
We Know Not What We Do is set for release on Friday, June 7th. Snag a copy as soon as you’re able! You’ll be very glad you did!
 
 

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Stans1

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