The Shins are Back!

Cool! Albuquerque’s (or perhaps Portland’s) favourite sons The Shins are getting ready to launch a new record.  Their new song, simply titled “Simple Song”, recently appeared on the band’s website.  You can check it out here:

(hint: click on the reel-to-reel’s ‘Play’ button)

Looks like the full album, Port of Morrow, will drop in March.

If memory serves, SubPop released the Shins’ previous album, Wincing the Night Away, in January of 2007.  This approach has some merit – by releasing new music in the dead of winter, you can sometimes get better press coverage for indie releases, since not much new product comes out just after the Christmas season.  The mid-winter timing can make touring & other kinds of promotion problematic, though.  This time around, it looks like James Mercer et al are going to release the album on their own label (with distribution by Columbia) and just tease us with a single in January, followed by the full album in spring.  Expect to see some high-profile tour dates and late-night TV appearances in March and April, right around the release date and leading up to their Coachella appearances.  I sure hope they get some great exposure; it’s well deserved.

With any luck, The Shins will include my fair burg on their tour this year – I’ve never been lucky enough to see them.  Might even have to make an impromptu road trip, depending on circumstances.

All three previous Shins records (Oh Inverted World, Chutes Too Narrow, and Wincing The Night Away) are indie rock gems.  Lots of Beatles-esque melodies paired with chiming guitars and pristine, modern production values.  I’m hoping that the new album builds on the new direction suggested by the stand-out track and second single, “Sealegs”, from the last album.  Port of Morrow has some big shoes to fill.  Based on the first single, I’m optimistic.

When last we saw the band, on Jimmy Fallon’s show in November 2011, they played a tasty rendition of “Breathe” during Tribute to Pink Floyd week.  But in “Simple Song”, do I hear some sonic similarities to The Who circa 1978?  Not the over-the-top ‘big rock’ sound, but in the melody and songwriting.  Interesting.

P.S.: Port of Morrow will be available in mp3, CD, and vinyl formats.  Plus limited quantities of audiophile reel-to-reel tape:

Very cool!  Is reel-to-reel the new vinyl?  Watch and see.

P.P.S.:  The Shins have always been dominated to a large degree by lead singer James Mercer’s voice and songwriting.  The revolving cast of band members continues for album number four.  This year, the reconstituted Shins will feature Mercer joined by Richard Swift, Joe Plummer, Yuuki Matthews and Jessica Dobson.


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