Friday, May 11, 2012

The Shins- Not So Simple

The Shins  became well known due to a line in the 2004 movie Garden State  when Natalie Portman turns to Zach Braff and says “this song will change your life”. That is a lot of pressure for any song, but “New Slang” gained a whole lot of new fans and exposure for this band. I will admit to not knowing a lot about this band until I heard the Garden State soundtrack. I have been a huge fan ever since. The front man and songwriter James Mercer, has created his own sound that combines great melodies and a refined production. They had not put out an album in five years until the newly released Port of Morrow. A lot of fans couldn't be happier to have them back.

The Shins were formed in 1996 as a James Mercer side project. They became a full time band in 2001 when they were signed to the SubPop  label. They released Oh, Inverted World the same year to great critical acclaim. The band moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Portland, Oregon and lost some members along the way. They recorded the much-admired follow-up Chutes Too Narrow in 2003. Between two highly regarded albums and the Garden State soundtrack, the band was at another level. The band then went back into the studio and recorded Wincing the Night Away in 2007. It was largely a solo James Mercer recording, for the band underwent some more personal changes. I loved this album. It was my favorite album of 2007 by far. It even got a well earned Grammy nomination. After touring the album the band went in different directions. Mercer teamed with Danger Mouse in 2010 and released an album under the name of Broken Bells . It was quite a surprise to hear last year that Mercer was putting more Shins music together with Port of Morrow, which was just released. He has a new backing band but the music is as incredible as it has always been. It was released on Mercer’s own label Aural Apothecary. Please enjoy the single from the new album “Simple Song”

I am thrilled that Mercer has decided to put out some new Shins music and I hope that the next record doesn’t take another five years. Many fans can’t wait that long. I encourage you to listen to the band “that will change your life”.

Update: One of my favorite bands and people, Harper Blynn has just released a new album. It is fantastic and available for free on their web site if you click the link on their name that I provided. Even though they are offering it for free, you should donate to the cause. They have just come off the road opening for Ingrid Michaelson and I am positive that they now have a whole new legion of fans.

Larry adds:   If you are interested in learning more about what is going through James Mercer's head as he crafts his songs check out this terrific article in which he explains his thinking regarding each  Port of Morrow song.