Tuesday, September 13, 2011

REVIEW: Shimmering Stars - Violent Hearts

Sometimes genius is found in a number of little things done right. A case in point is Vancouver, B.C.'s Shimmering Stars and their debut release, Violent Hearts. Shimmering Stars have taken the simple, stripped down melodic approach to pop employed in the 50s and 60s, crafted songs with timeless themes (with a few twists), and performed them with full-on reverb, three part vocals and Phil Spector-style wall of sound. The result is a sound that feels both engagingly fresh and yet, familiar. There probably is no better way to dive into the album than to listen to its best track, "I'm Gonna Try", showcased in the fine video below. The song begins "Walking down the street / and I wanna kill everyone I see / how come I don't like anyone I meet?". A bit later the song gives us what to me is the best line -- "I've lost my mind / I'm losing you / It's just as well". "I'm Gonna Try" is two minutes of pop bliss:

Shimmering Stars - I'm Gonna Try from Salazar on Vimeo.

The members of Shimmering Stars, Rory McClure (guitar, vocals), Andrew Dergousoff (drums, vocals), and Brent Sasaki (bass, vocals), all grew up near Kamloops, B.C. and have played in previous bands, but they formed this band only 18 months ago. The genesis for the songs on Violent Hearts was Rory's fascination with old Everly Brothers footage. He wrote the songs using the Everly Brothers approach as a platform, giving the songs a modern indie spin and penning lyrics focusing on relationships and the failure that is endemic to them. In one interview he noted that there may be some ex-girlfriends portrayed in the songs, but they probably wouldn't be flattered. Yes, you will be reminded of the music of an earlier generation, but that generation didn't tend to feature lyrics with the same level of violence and anxiety.

My second favorite song on Violent Hearts is the bouncy "East Van Girls" (note to those unfamiliar with Vancouver, "East Van" refers to East Vancouver).
"East Van Girls"

Shimmering Stars - East Van Girls from MAGIC CHILL on Vimeo.

Violent Hearts was recorded at the Garage Mahal in Kamloops, which I understand is otherwise referred to as Rory's parent's garage. The album is released on Seattle's Hardly Art label in North America and Almost Musique in Europe. If you like the kind of music I like, you owe it to yourself to check out this album. Go ahead--you deserve it; you know you do.

"Dancing to Music I Hate"

Bandcamp (Demos)
Hardly Art

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