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Violent Hearts

Shimmering Stars

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Album Review

On their debut album, Violent Hearts, Vancouver trio Shimmering Stars delve deeply into the ghostly sounds of 1950s and early-'60s pop and come up with a sound both older than a scratchy old 45 and as current as the latest MP3 you downloaded but didn’t listen to. The guitar-bass-drums sound the group uses is simple as can be, nimbly running through familiar chord changes as the vocals (usually sung by guitarist Rory McClure but bolstered by drummer Andrew Dergousoff and bassist Brent Sasaki) float over the top like melancholy clouds. Applying this effectively direct approach to some very catchy and sweetly sad and romantic songs, they then dip the entire thing in buckets and buckets of cavernous reverb to give the record a pleasingly warm and shambolic feel. It likely would have worked without the smeared and hazy surfaces, but the sound has a haunting quality that helps the songs sink in deeper. Split between Brill Building-inspired ballads that wrench and tug at the old familiar heartstrings (like the careening “Sun’s Going Down” and the painfully slow-burning “Sabians”) and more uptempo tracks that have a bit of bounce (like the should-be-a-hit single “I’m Gonna Try” and the rollicking soda shop jams “I Don’t Wanna Know” and “Dancing to Music I Hate”), the record is full of songs that have sharp hooks and memorable melodies. There may not be a single moment of musical originality here but they dig up the past like the best gravediggers around, rebuilding the old scavenged parts into something full of life and rambunctious, heartbreakingly real energy. Violent Hearts is a resoundingly successful debut that puts the band right at the front of the line of all the reverb-heavy, backward-looking indie pop bands that overran the music scene like seagulls on the beach at low tide in the early part of the decade.


Formed: 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Cana

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '10s

Vancouver-based dream pop trio Shimmering Stars filter the dark undertones of ‘50s and ‘60s influences like Del Shannon and Phil Spector through a modern lens to create a haunting, poignant tone that sounds equal parts familiar and fresh. The band, comprised of guitarists Rory McClure and Clint Lofkrantz, bassist Felix Fung, and drummer Andrew Dergousoff, who share vocal duties, formed in spring 2010 after being inspired by vintage Everly Brothers concert footage. Later that year and in early 2011,...
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Violent Hearts, Shimmering Stars
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