Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Indie Band of the Week: Broken Bells

Broken Bells is a collaboration between James Mercer (of The Shins) and Danger Mouse (of The Grey Album fame). I've enjoyed Mouse's work with Gnarls Barkley and his production turns on the underrated The Black Keys' Attack and Release and The Rapture's Pieces of the People We Love. The Shins are a different story entirely. James Mercer's meandering echo is pleasant enough, but helplessly reduces me to zZz's if it takes him more than 1 verse to dangle a hook. A fantastic lyricist and perfectly capable of singing up an octave and imparting a bit of emotion into tracks, it's no surprise that the most successful songs on Wincing the Night Away (their most recent release) were those that found the band keeping their experimental urges in check (Sleeping Lessons, Australia, Phantom Limb).

If anyone is capable of revitalizing a tired formula, it's a new producer like Danger Mouse. Sure enough, the lead single The High Road sounds absolutely nothing like any Shins track I've ever heard. Keyboard loops float off into space before Mercer comes in, his echo on full display, singing down on us like that Teletubby sun baby. Before you can even place that it's "that Shins dude", a chorus of 'AHH's' sweep you into the bridge and Mercer's confident falsetto. The chorus is effective because it doesn't leave Mercer hanging to carry the load himself, sacrificing some intimacy but offering some needed reinforcement and depth. As a result, the song has a refreshing anthemic energy to it.

Listen to The High Road below:

It is also available as a free single on the duos website brokenbells.com

1 comment:

    Who You Gonna Call
    Tel 44-(0)208-323 8013
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    Hi lollipopsandcrisps,

    On behalf of Columbia Records, Monotone and Broken Bells, many thanks for plugging "Broken Bells" / the artists’ eponymous album on your site (street date 9th March) ... thanks, also, on behalf of the label, management and artists for not posting any pirate links to unreleased (studio) material and, if you / your readers want good quality, non-pirated, preview tracks, then full length versions of "The High Road" (as already featured by you) and "Vaporize" are available for fans and bloggers to link to / post / host etc at www.brokenbells.com ... .. for further details of the new album, special pre-orders, on-line promotions, videos and 2010 shows, check-out the official site, as well as the artists’ MySpace at www.myspace.com/brokenbells and YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/brokenbells ... .. and keep an eye on these official sources for details of further news, preview material and on-line promotions.

    Thanks again for your plug.