You know how sometimes a television show returns for a new season with an altered opening credit sequence, and the experience is strangely disorienting? On one hand the show sports the same logo it did before, and you recognize some of the characters and scenes from the show you know and love. But there are also new faces posing from the camera, and clips of new characters interacting with veterans in footage that has never aired, and so the whole thing feels phony — phony even though the show is fiction, and it was never anything more than what its creators said it was at the time.
The Shins: “Simple Song”
Our first taste of Port of Morrow, James Mercer’s first record as the Shins since 2007’s Wincing the Night Away, is here in the form of “Simple Song.” Hear Mercer lead his brand new lineup through the catchy cut above.
Oh, you guys. I am really liking this. Too reminiscent of “Phantom Limb,” perhaps, but James Mercer’s vocal is outstanding.
By Casey Newton
Just after nightfall at the Outside Lands festival, the Shins took the stage for their first tour in years. The band’s most recent album, Wincing the Night Away, was released in January 2007; they last toured in 2009. They picked up their instruments and launched into “Caring is Creepy.” “It’s a luscious mix of words and tricks,” frontman James Mercer sang, sounding louder and looser than I remembered. That’s when I noticed who was standing behind him: save for their melancholy singer, these weren’t the Shins at all.
Why did James Mercer fire the rest of the Shins? My new piece for TwentyFourBit investigates.
The Shins’ new lineup — or at least, the new touring lineup — performing “Sleeping Lessons” last night at Outside Lands in San Francisco. I’ll have much more to say about this show soon, but it was a revelation: the band is louder and looser than it has ever been. Listen to the way James Mercer shouts “Off with their heads!” here — this is a man making a break with the past.
"Citizen," Broken Bells. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about Broken Bells, the collaboration between the Shins’ James Mercer and Danger Mouse. At times, the music feels pleasant but bland — just more audio wallpaper for Starbucks, which is selling it by the cash registers. But at other times the project realizes its potential, putting Mercer’s twisty lyrics and lovelorn melodies into some dazzling productions. "Citizen" is one of these moments — tight, self-assured, and layered without feeling labored. Here’s hoping the rest of Broken Bells starts to open up to me the way this one has.
(track via blindxbrigadier)