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Tuesday, October 31, 2006
  The Shins have a new album. well - in three months.


a little like i did over the last weekend,

The Shins disappeared.

there are bands that are destined to get big (Death Cab), play in arenas, major festivals, and tour relentlessly to increasingly bigger and bigger audiences. there are bands that skip this part (Panic? at the Disco) - they fly right to fame, made by chance, filling an image for which the people are already hungry. and then there are bands that are never meant to reach fame at all. and this is The Shins.

for instance: why is it that you can't talk about them without mentioning Natalie Portman - or, perhaps more relevantly - Zach Braff? why is it that most kids go to shows mouthing the words to New Slang, but then glancing awkwardly at their friends, garbling syllables to pretend they know anything else? why is it James Mercer stands so frightfully off to side-stage, leaving the rest to gawk at the audience and make off-hand comments?

this little Sub Pop signing never knew what was coming to them.

now, with only two full albums and almost six years of a Sub-Poppian contract (here's the disappearance part), they're soon to release their third LP, Wincing The Night Away, after almost four years of relative silence (yet their name has become so deafening, hasn't it?). and i do have it. i refuse to post anything, however; first of all, a million RIAA freaks would be after me and they'd shut down the search for Toaster's noise, and i know you would all be devastated. but mostly it has to do with loyalty. the Albuquerque (stare at that word for a minute, will you?) band means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and i don't pretend to be the only independent music geek with a fierce love for the back-to-basics, definitively "indie rock" Oh, Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow. i also don't pretend to be alone in that testimonial that their first release ('02 ish, for me) helped start my quest for unknown, unheard bands (you might say that it was actually the Lips, but that's a whole other story) - thus leading to the creation of this blog.

but this new album is... oh, guys! it's so totally less-than. it is painfully, heart-wrenchingly mediocre. so much so that i had to write an entire rambling and aimless post about it. my hopes were dashed, my perception of reality and my love for music ripped away from me - no no, that's not true at all, theatrics my friends, theatrics. but it's just not what i wanted to hear. IT IS SO PRODUCED. oh my GOD. i don't know if Mercer's voice can really handle the big-band rock sound of some of these tracks. like "Turn On Me." wow. and it is so, SO one track long. the variation is gone. the tymph is there, the occassional outbreaking Mercer wail, the poppy jangle and about four times as many New Slangs - yeah, it's there. but the other thing that looms large is the (increasingly more obvious) sultan of "alternative" - you guessed it, kids. you flippin' guessed it. who else but Thom Yorke, standing silhouetted and off to the side, the Big Brother figure of all today's music. the subtle but evident electronic elements, especially in (gasp!) voice distortion - the tone, the cloudiness, everything. and what's this, strings on "Red Rabbits?" mind you: this report is brought to you following the first tracks, Chutes-outtakeish "Australia." but listen to "Pam Berry" and "Black Wave" and you tell me you don't hear Radiohead. i dare you.

even when Weezer put out Make Believe, i walked around saying - bands change, genius does strange things to people (to Rivers), we have to be able to accept the capacity for a band to grow blah blah blah. and then i heard the album (ha). this isn't another case of Rivers holing up in a black room and then doing weed with Rick Rubin, only to dry-heave a bunch of airy bullshit into a microphone and call it music (cough, sputter). but this is a case of a band changing. this is a case of: can they handle this success? were they really meant to get this big. The Shins are certainly departing. to put a label on it this early in the game is ludicrous - sure, i've called it mediocre, but that's sort of a cop-out, isn't it? - and i refuse to give up so easily on a band that was so much to me. these questions just need to be asked. so, rest assured, you'll hear from me again, and i'll just continue to fruitlessly pique your interest until you get the chance to acquire it for yourself.

for now, lovelies, check out their newly refurbished website (little floating boat!) here. they're much much much more interactive with their News string, so keep up to date! and don't spam their myspace, apparently. that's bad, friends. spam is bad.

alright. actual mp3age later, i promise. just wait until you see the goodies i have lined up for you.

and HAPPY HALLOWEEN. if you have kids, you should get dressed up too, otherwise the walking dead will recognize you and invade your souls. what, you don't know your All Hallow's Eve history? pfft. go ask Wiki.
 
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