September 12, 2007

Evolution of... The Shins

The Shins are one of the bigger indie-pop bands out there, with considerable coverage and fame with their three main releases, Oh, Inverted World (2001), Chutes Too Narrow (2004) and Wincing The Night Away (2007). They've remained signed to Sub Pop records, which also has such bands such as The Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie and Iron & Wine.

The Shins formed in 1997 in New Mexico as a side project to another band. They produced their first two songs, When I Goosestep and Nature Bears a Vacuum and released their first album, Oh, Inverted World in 2001 with a good sound, with their James Mercer's distinctive vocals and their retro-sounding guitar work. The group set themselves apart with their complex sets of lyrics that really makes one look twice or three times at the liner notes before moving on. Notable songs on the album include Know Your Onion! and The Past And Pending, as well as New Slang and Caring Is Creepy.

Know Your Onion! - The Shins
The Past and Pending - The Shins

It was those two songs that helped propel The Shins into a wider spotlight as filmmaker and actor Zach Braff used the two songs in the soundtrack for his film Garden State, with a direct mention of the band. While most indie-hipsters cringe at this, for the once relatively unknown band was now exposed to everyone who liked it simply for being in the movie. That might be true, but it's certainly exposed the band to huge number of people (and you have to admit, the Garden State Soundtrack is one of the best compilations out there) and it's brought the Shins from obscurity to fame.

New Slang - The Shins
Caring Is Creepy - The Shins

In 2003, they released their second album, Chutes Too Narrow, where they continued much on the same track, although this time, they've kept the same vocal work, but added a nice mix of acoustic and electronic guitar work with a laid back energy. This album feels to me to be more dynamic as there are fast and slower songs over the entire thing. Pink Bullets and So Says I are the best tracks on the album

Pink Bullets - The Shins
So Says I - The Shins

Earlier in 2007, they released their third full length album, entitled Wincing the Night Away, with Phantom Limb as the lead single. The band continued their streak with a third album with fantastic writing, and with a fantastic sound. Their sound has started to change a little bit, with less jangle from the lead guitar, with a bit of a softer, more rounded sound, abit one that's still highly unique. Wincing The Night Away produced several other fantastic new songs, such as Phantom Limb, Split Needles, Sea Legs and Turn On Me.

Phantom Limb - The Shins
Turn On Me - The Shins

The band continues to go out and tour, with a number of music videos out on the web. They'll be around for a while, and as long as they remain on the independent market, they'll certainly be the indie-darling band out there for people to listen to.