Tag Archive: The Shins

  1. Single Servings: Notorious B.I.G., Andrew Bird, The Shins, & Sleigh Bells

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    I’ll probably be experimenting with the formatting of the Single Servings posts for the next few weeks to find something I like. However, instead of featuring one new track per post, I’m planning on featuring a collection of new singles in each Single Serving post. I really really feel compelled to try to keep tings neat and orderly, so I may try to lump all the Soundcloud-hosted tracks into one Single Serving post, all of the Bandcamp tracks into the following Single Serving post, and then the free downloadable tracks into another. Anyways, if you have any feedback I encourage you to share.

    This week we have four new tracks to share including a really sunny remix of Notorious B.I.G. by Viceroy and new singles by Andrew Bird, The Shins and Sleigh Bells.  Enjoy!

    Notorious B.I.G. – Going Back To Cali (Viceroy “Jet Life” Remix)
    I’ve come to accept that I’m not really a fan of remixes. That’s not to say I don’t like any remixes (there are plenty that I do like), but I’m very picky. This remix by “Summertime, All The Time” producer Viceroy hit that happy spot for me where a remix offers something new and upbeat without crossing the line from fun to cheesy.

    Andrew Bird – Eyeoneye
    Andrew Bird fans will be excited to hear that the man’s latest album, Break It Yourself, is scheduled for a March 6th release.  If you’re a huge Andrew Bird fan you’ll probably want to pick up one of the linen-wrapped limited edition box sets of the album before they are gone.  Limited to 1000 copies that include the record on vinyl and CD, a DVD of some early live performances of Break It Yourself material, a poster, a photo, and a stationary set.

    The Shins – Simple Song
    In case you missed it when it was released a few weeks ago, The Shins have released the first single off of their upcoming album. It’s titled “Simple Song” and it’s a welcome reminder of why we love The Shins so damn much.

    Sleigh Bells – Comeback Kid
    It’s been a hot minute since we heard from Sleigh Bells, but they are back with the single “Comeback Kid.” As you’d expect from Sleigh Bells, the track is bombastic, loud and strangely melodic.

  2. Musical Pairings: The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow

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    You may have heard of today’s Musical Pairing before: The Shins. They’ve been around for awhile now. But although they are pretty seasoned indie-rockers by this point, they’ve always reminded me of youth and new beginnings. Specifically, I associate them with my own “new beginnings” back when I first moved to San Francisco in the early naughts. I’d arrived in San Francisco with a suitcase full of clothes, a busted boombox with a dangling speaker, a backpack with my CD wallet and other random knick-knacks, an airplane blanket I’d stolen from the flight, and my pillow. The blanket came in handy because I had brought no other blankets, had no bed, and realized on my first night that we had no heat in my first apartment and, as I learned, it can get cold in San Francisco during the Summer. Only the boombox was more important than that small blanket in those first few days because, as we’ve pretty firmly established on this site, I’m addicted to music. In the evenings before bed, I’d go to my bare-walled bedroom and I’d blast my newest records, records like Oh, Inverted World, through that busted boombox. Laying on the floor wasn’t comfortable and the blanket was much too small to completely cover me, but I was much to excited to let a little physical discomfort ruin my mood.

    Probably in part because Oh, Inverted World soundtracked that time for me, I was eagerly looking forward to the release of Chutes Too Narrow. And, it didn’t disappoint. I poured over every detail of the album in heavy doses. I am confident that there is a general consensus amongst people knowledgeable of such things that there are very, very few moments in indie-pop that are more perfect than the coda on “Saint Simon” which consists of those blissfully, feather-light la-la-la‘s as frontman James Mercer sings: “Mercy’s eyes are blue / when she places them in front of you / nothing really holds a candle to / the solemn warmth you feel inside of you.” In many ways, Chutes Too Narrow was a surprising move for The Shins. It was slightly less atmospheric than the lo-fi Oh, Inverted World, in part because the keyboards were provided less prominence and their guitars were, comparatively, let loose. The production is much cleaner than it’s predecessor, though that was to be expected considering their rising prominence in the indie music scene. But all of the changes were subtle, and they retained all of the qualities that were crucial to their appeal: Mercer’s poetic lyrics, catchy songwriting, bright, light-weight melodies, and thoughtful song structures. Chutes Too Narrow makes a perfect Musical Pairing for Kasey’s Broccoli Soup with Lemon and Ricotta.  The soup, like the album, is light, flavorful and easy to fall in love with.  Of course, it’s hard to go wrong with a creamy soup blended with fresh ricotta.

    The Shins – So Says I

    Head back to the Kitchen to read the recipe for Broccoli Soup with Lemon and Ricotta.  They head to Insound to buy Chutes Too Narrow on vinyl.

  3. Musical Pairings: The Shins – Oh, Inverted World

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    You’ve gotta try this omelette. It will change your life, I swear. OK, I admit that may be a touch of hyperbole, but the Squash Blossom Omelet Kasey is featuring in the Kitchen today is really delicious.  It is light, airy, and savory with fluffy beaten eggs and flowery squash blossoms. This is quintessential quaint cafe fare. And although it is also unlikely that The Shins’ Oh, Inverted World changed your life the first time you heard it, it is also a really great album. With light, fluffy melodies and bright, airy harmonies it creates the perfect savory musical companion to Kasey’s Squash Blossom Omelet. And as the album celebrated it’s tenth anniversary this year, if your copy has been collecting dust on the shelf, now is a great time to clean off the dust, place it on the platter and drop the needle for a fresh spin on the deck. For my part, I found that a decade later the album still sounds fresh, crisp and even occasionally surprising.

    The reason it is worth revisiting, in case you’ve forgot, is that Oh, Inverted World collects some of the best, most straight-forward sunny day pop songs released by any band in the past two decades. The melodies are simple and familiar, front man James Mercer’s vocals are warm and engaging, and the ambiance is intriguing and occasionally adventurous. For example, the spacey, multi-colored sound effects that underline the catchy guitar riffs and vocals of “Caring Is Creepy” lend an air of upbeat psychedelia to what otherwise would be traditional pop-folk. Sure it is the hooks that stick with you, but it is the little sparkling acid-tinged flourishes bubbling up from under the surface that really make these songs complete. Another prime example is the extended outro from “One by One All Day” with whizzing sound effects and tribal, pounding, organic percussion. Put another way, the song begins as a Beach Boys’ jam, but ends almost as if it were an Animal Collective prototype. And Mercer’s lyrics are certainly surreal throughout the album. Take the lyrics from “New Slang” as an example: “God speed all the bakers at dawn may they all cut their thumbs, and bleed into their buns ’till they melt away.” While I’m not trying to recast Oh, Inverted World as a pop music on an acid-trip (we have the Flaming Lips and Animal Collective for that), I really do believe it is weirder than I think most people will remember. The mix of quixotic production and arrangements with pop music song writing and beautiful, lush harmonies make tracks like “Pressed in a Book” and “Girl Inform Me” fully satisfying songs.

    The Shins – Pressed In a Book

    If you don’t already have it, go buy Oh, Inverted World from Insound.  Then go check out the recipe for that Squash Blossom Omelet that Kasey is featuring in the Kitchen.