It was only a matter of time before I mentioned The Shins. This multi-genre band from the land of enchantment (otherwise known as New Mexico) is, without a doubt, my favorite band. It was The Shins who first exposed me to the wonderful world of indie music with their folk pop and quirky jingles. This is a band that would have fit perfectly in the 1960s, and thrived.
The band got one of its big breaks when two songs, “New Slang” and “Caring is Creepy”, were featured on the Garden State soundtrack. Natalie Portman’s character, Sam, even goes as far as saying “you gotta hear this one song. It’ll change your life, I swear.” She then aptly places her headphones, playing “New Slang”, on Zach Braff’s character’s head. That was one of the first times I heard The Shins (good product placement), and by no means the last.
After that momentous occasion, I found myself listening to The Shins more and more. Their music led me down the wonderful path of indie pop that includes artists such as Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service, Iron and Wine, The Format, and Rogue Wave. Sophomore year of college, I was fortunate enough to see The Shins live, as they toured the US promoting their insanely good album, “Wincing the Night Away”. Seeing your favorite band live can do one of two things.
1) Further your enjoyment of their music, and enhance your devotion to that band, or
2) Cause you to despise that artist, and cease any further listening of their music (if they fail to impress you, or are obviously not as talented without the computer tricks of a professional studio)
I’ll have to opt for choice #1 here as The Shins were one of the best bands I have ever seen live. Though the show was over three years ago, I can still remember that they opened up with Sleeping Lessions. Ahhh, it was fucking glorious. Lead singer and guitarist, James Mercer, had a all-encompassing stage presence that sucked in the entire crowd. Best. Show. Ever.
Now, one thing that does frustrate me about this band is the amount of time that passes between their albums, and also that they are not on tour very often. The hype created by these factors could also be what makes them so good. It’s been nearly three years since they released Wincing the Night Away, yet their next album (unnamed) is still being produced.
Huge lineup changes have occurred lately, causing somewhat of a mystification of the upcoming album. Ron Lewis of Fruit Bats and Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse will both be joining the band, replacing Jesse Sandoval and Marty Crandall. Yeah, these additions excite me too.
As we anxiously await The Shins‘ next album, Mercer is diligently working on a side project with Danger Mouse set to be released in early 2010 as well. The group is being called Broken Bells. If you are unfamiliar with The Shins (you should be ashamed of yourself!), here is an album-by-album summary of their most enchanting songs. Check it!
Oh, Inverted World (2001) – “Caring is Creepy” (my favorite song by them), “Girl Inform Me”, “New Slang”, “The Celibate Life”, “Girl On The Wing”, “Pressed In a Book”, “The Past and Pending”
Chutes Too Narrow (2003) – “Kissing the Lipless”, “So Says I”, “Saint Simon”, “Fighting in a Sack”, “Gone For Good”, “Young Pilgrims”, “Turn a Square”
Wincing The Night Away (2007) – “Sleeping Lessons”, “Australia”, “Phantom Limb”, “Sea Legs”, “Red Rabbits”, “Turn on Me”, “Girl Sailor”
Make sure you go out and buy their new album, as well as the Broken Bells album, when they’re finally released!