by: Colin Oliver

In the Canadian Indie scene, the band ìStarsî is a particular favourite of mine, so Iíll say from the get go that this review is going to be a tad biased.

In addition to that, their latest release, entitled The Bedroom Demos, is a collection of demo versions of songs from what may be my favourite Stars studio album, In Our Bedroom After The War. So you could say I had some idea ahead of time that I would enjoy writing this.

Surprise, surprise, I have almost nothing but good things to say.

Listening to non-live demo versions of songs youíve come to know is a strange sensation. An unfamiliar instrument may start in, or a familiar one missing entirely. Gaps, and pauses, and different words . . . the slight alteration in the cadence of the vocals results in thoughts of such hilarious audacity, like ìHey, you were supposed to go UP at that part, what are you doing?î

Iím happy to say that most of these differences are very pleasant and give an interesting perspective into the evolution of the songs themselves. Most songs contain some entertaining quiet banter before the song starts up, emphasizing that ëdemoí feeling. The lyrics are just slightly different for My Favourite Book, and thereís an awesome totally unexpected guitar solo at the bridge. Bitches in Tokyo has this quirky extra intro section before launching into the familiar song form. Barricade is even more haunting and beautiful with just Torq, the piano and a single microphone.

All that said, for a couple songs (as much as I love this ìbehind the scenesî look), I end up missing the polished refine of the final versions. On the studio album, the crescendo of the title track gives me chills, but this artful build-up/climax was evidently a later thought in the recording process, demonstrating the evolution of the production. Of course, this sort of thing is to be expected with some of the tracks, and regardless, all of the songs are enriched for me now by hearing these demos.

The only thing I found truly jarring was the demo version of Personal. In the studio version, we hear an emotional and intense interaction occurring around a personal ad, back and forth between singers Amy and Torq. The demo version has the same sound and feel . . . except Torq sings both parts, the part of Caroline sung in just a slightly higher voice. I honestly giggled a little. If youíve heard it you know the song is not trying for laughs . . . so I think Iíll stick with the studio version for that one.

For those craving some new material, a couple of new songs have been added as the last couple tracks. Division (Monkees) is a pleasant addition, but I found a new favourite in The Worst Thing (Whitey Jam), a bouncy tune about once painful childhood memories, now cherished. It is bound to make you wistful for your own childhood.

Can you enjoy The Bedroom Demos without first internalizing In Our Bedroom After The War? Absolutely. But my personal recommendation would be to pick up the latter, love it as I did, and then get the demos to get a full appreciation for this unique look into the real bones of the studio album.

This is ultimate fan-serve.

A rare gift from any artist.

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