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About The Shins


The Shins is an American indie rock band formed in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1996. The band is the project of singer-songwriter James Mercer, who has served as the band's sole constant member throughout numerous line-up changes. The band's current line-up consists of Mercer, alongside Yuuki Matthews , Mark Watrous , Casey Foubert , Patti King and Jon Sortland . They are based in Portland, Oregon.


The band was formed by Mercer as a side project to Flake Music, who were active from 1992 to 1999. Flake Music released two 7" singles and a full-length album When You Land Here It's Time to Return on Omnibus Records and were touring with Modest Mouse when they were signed to Sub Pop Records. The band's first two records, Oh, Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow performed well commercially and received critical acclaim. The single "New Slang" brought the band mainstream attention when it was featured in the 2004 film Garden State. Consequently, the band's third album, Wincing the Night Away , was a major success for the group, peaking at number two on the Billboard 200 and earning a Grammy Award nomination.


Following this, the Shins signed to Columbia Records and Mercer parted ways with the entire original lineup, deeming it "an aesthetic decision." Following a near five-year hiatus, Port of Morrow, the band's fourth studio album, was released in 2012. Their fifth album, Heartworms, was released in March 2017.


The Shins was formed in 1996 by James Mercer, a member of the band Flake Music in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Flake Music consisted of members guitarist/vocalist James Mercer, drummer Jesse Sandoval, keyboardist Martin Crandall, and bassist Neal Langford. The group began in 1992 and released a string of singles and an album, When You Land Here, It's Time to Return, which was well received. The band toured with Modest Mouse and Califone. Mercer formed the Shins for a change of pace and enlisted Sandoval on drums. When asked what it was that began his interest in music, Mercer said "... it got me out of my shell and gave me a social life." They began performing as a duo alongside Cibo Matto and the American Analog Set. Mercer became the band's primary songwriter, and consequently, "the group developed a more focused, crafted sound than Flake Music's charming, if somewhat rambling, collaborative style." His focus on percussive guitar playing still led friends to compare his demos as too similar to Flake, and he focused on taking the music in a different direction. Unlike Flake, Mercer was the band's sole lyricist, and songs were built from his initial structure. The group added Scared of Chaka's Dave Hernandez and Ron Skrasek to complete their lineup, but the two musicians left before the end of the decade to pursue their work with Scared of Chaka. By 1999, Flake Music disbanded and Neal Langford joined the Shins.


The Shins issued their first release — the 7" single Nature Bears a Vacuum — in 1998 via Omnibus Records. Following the completion of their debut single release, "When I Goose-Step", the Shins embarked on a tour with Modest Mouse. Mercer became a "hermit" crafting what would become the group's debut album, and became depressed with his life in Albuquerque. Friends of the band, including Zeke Howard from Love As Laughter and Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse sent record labels cassette demos of the band's songs. Mercer sent a demo to Sub Pop Records in Seattle, Washington, and label co-founder Jonathan Poneman caught a concert in San Francisco while the band was on tour with Modest Mouse. He offered the band a one-off single deal, and the Shins' second single, "New Slang", was included as part of their Single-of-the-Month series, issuing a 7" single to fan club members in February 2001. Positive press for "New Slang" made the group's debut album one of the most anticipated indie rock albums of 2001, and Sub Pop signed the band in full. "Before you knew it, my whole life was upside down: I got signed, I quit my job, I moved out of town, the big relationship I'd had for five years ended. All of a sudden my whole life was up in smoke," recalled Mercer.


The band's debut LP, Oh, Inverted World , was released in June 2001, with a compact disc version following the next month. Much of the album was recorded prior to the Sub Pop deal in Mercer's basement. The album received critical acclaim and solidified the band as one of indie rock's definitive artists, while also placing Albuquerque on the musical map with Oh, Inverted World's "gloriously skewed pop and dripping with yearning, whimsy and brittle innocence." The album helped re-establish Sub Pop Records as a dominant force in the independent community; the label had been without a marquee artist for much of the prior years. The group spent the rest of the year touring with acts such as Preston School of Industry and Red House Painters. "New Slang" proved to be a "stealth hit", helping Oh, Inverted World move over 100,000 copies within two years, considered remarkable for an independent label; Sub Pop had hoped the record would sell 10,000 copies. Mercer was positive in licensing the song to a variety of media, confirming to The New York Times that he received more money from touring and licensing than record sales. The song was featured in a McDonald's advert that aired during the 2002 Winter Olympics, which led to criticism from several corners, among those independent music fans and the band's own hometown alt weekly.


This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "The Shins", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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