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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

Live Music

Chris Morin
Published Thursday July 24, 05:34 pm
Vancouver dream-poppers nod to their punk days on second album

Saturday 26
Capitol Music Club

It’s not uncommon for musicians to revisit the sounds of past genres and bands. But when Vancouver’s Shimmering Stars began to write the songs that would eventually make up their second full-length album, they looked to their own history for inspiration.

Originally hailing from Merritt, a small town about three hours northeast of Vancouver, the group began as a trio of childhood friends who skateboarded and played punk rock together, in a band called Bedrooms of the Nations. Since then, group’s sound has changed completely, after vocalist and guitarist Rory McClure produced several demos based on his obsession with the Everly Brothers and post-World War II radio pop. They rechristened themselves as Shimmering Stars and put out their first album, Violent Hearts in 2011.

But now they’re doing a bit of “back to the future” with their second album, titled Bedrooms of the Nation. Drummer Andrew Dergousoff says that naming their sophomore album after their original band was both a nod to their collective past, and an acknowledgement that they never completely shook off their initial influences.

“So much of our lives seems like such an inside joke that it’s hard to know how it comes across with people,” he says with a laugh. “Bedrooms of the Nation was a name of one of our past bands and we played a harder style of music that was influenced by punk and grunge. This new album harkens back to that sound, and it gave us more flexibility to bring back those elements. So if you think of it that way, the first Shimmering Stars album was more of a departure from our sound.”

Despite taking on the harsher elements of My Bloody Valentine-esque wall-of-sound guitar-worship, on Bedrooms of the Nation the band produces dreamy, shoegaze pop songs that meander amidst fuzz and haze. Shimmering Stars manages to immerse themselves in the songs of yesteryear while maintaining a fresh and vibrant sound —which is upbeat despite a heady drone throughout.

“It’s either a departure or a progression from the first album, which was lighter and obvious in the influence from the ‘50s and ‘60s,” says Dergousoff. “This one takes a bit of a different direction in the themes of what we’re singing about, as well as musically. As for the lyrics, they were reflective of what was going on at the time. We were always really interested in the concept of the bands from the ‘50s and ‘60s censoring themselves, in that they weren’t able to fully talk about those darker themes that they might have been experiencing.

“They had to bury them in metaphor, or take a lighter approach to songwriting so that they could get away with skirting the issue. They weren’t really delving into things like alcoholism or depression in the same way that we might now with the same level of social acceptance. This album is harder sounding [than the first], and I think it makes the lyrics sound darker in comparison.”

Dergousoff says that leading up to the album’s release, the band began to feel the malaise of waiting to release music they had recorded some time ago. The group eventually went the DIY route, launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, and is now eager to get back on the road. With a fourth member added to the line-up, Shimmering Stars is once again excited to be making music.

“Everything is so much more fun now,” says Dergousoff. “We can’t wait for people to hear the new album.”


The Backhomes
Monday 4
Beaumont Records

It’s taken several years and a move that took them nearly 5000 kilometres across Canada, but The Backhomes are finally settled both geographically and creatively.

The two-piece psych-pop band (consisting of Aimée van Drimmelen and Kees Dekker, an ex-member of The Besnard Lakes and Plants and Animals) first formed in Montréal in 2009, but years later the duo moved across the country to Victoria, BC. In 2013, they released their debut full-length album Only Friend, a record marked by reverb-drenched guitar and synth.

The Backhomes are currently working towards a follow-up album, a process that was kickstarted by a return to their old stomping grounds in Québec.

“We did a North American tour last summer and we were pretty excited that we got to record a song in Montréal in my old studio,” says Dekker, who also worked as a producer with Regina indie group Rah Rah for their Breaking Hearts album. “We made a point of recording and working on something every day, regardless of whether it was a grand idea or not. We discovered a lot of ideas that way, and we ended up going back to the stuff that was more natural to us, rather than what we did as pure creativity. To our surprise, those songs ended up being the bulk of what was going to be on the album.

“I’ve always really appreciated repetitive music,” he says, “so it’s always been a part of our sound. The new record is going in a direction with more keyboards, [and] I’d say that a lot of the new material is more upbeat.”

The Backhomes make lush, lo-fi pop rock that’s dreamy and cathartic, and the duo has also created a mesmerizing stage show to accompany the songs. Dekker says that audiences can expect to see brand-new animation projections on the group’s upcoming tour, courtesy of van Drimmelen.

“Aimée is a professional illustrator and animator, so we give her full creative license to come up with something cool,” he says. “We’re a duo and we don’t run around and do anything theatrical on stage, but we both love interesting visuals, so it’s been great that she has been able to take her art and incorporate it into the band. It’s become just as important as the music.”

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