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The Shins

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  • Formed: Albuquerque, NM
  • Years Active: 1990s, 2000s
  • Website: http://www.theshins.com
  • Recent Activity: 04.07.14 RT @joeplumdog: Look who "brought the weather" Hew Time arrives! Thanks all @coadydrums dalecover joyfulnoiserecs http://t.co/MkWPjuEtKr
  • The Shins

  • The Shins

  • The Shins

  • The Shins


Biography All Music GuideWikipedia

All Music Guide:

A classic guitar pop group almost nine years in the making, Albuquerque, New Mexico's the Shins began in 1997 as the side project of singer/songwriter and guitarist James Mercer's primary band, Flake. Mercer formed Flake in 1992 with drummer Jesse Sandoval, keyboardist Marty Crandall, and bassist Neal Langford; they eventually changed their name to Flake Music, releasing several singles, a well-received album, When You Land Here, It's Time to Return, and touring with friends like Modest Mouse and Califone.

Soon after the release of When You Land Here, Mercer and Sandoval formed the Shins as a change of pace, playing as a duo with Cibo Matto and the American Analog Set. With Mercer as the Shins' primary songwriter, the group developed a more focused, crafted sound than Flake Music's charming, if somewhat rambling, collaborative style. Crandall, as well as Scared of Chaka's Dave Hernandez and Ron Skrasek, filled out the Shins' lineup; however, Hernandez and Skrasek left after a short while, due to the success of their main project. By 1999, Flake Music essentially disbanded and Langford also joined the Shins.

With a couple of 7"s on Omnibus -- 1998's "Nature Bears a Vacuum" and 2000's "When I Goose-Step" -- under their belts, the Shins embarked on a tour with Modest Mouse. Sub Pop's Jonathan Poneman caught the San Francisco date of the tour and asked the Shins to contribute a single to the label's Single of the Month Club, which eventually became an offer to release their 2001 single "New Slang" and their debut album, Oh, Inverted World. The group spent the rest of the year touring with acts such as Preston School of Industry and Red House Painters. The release of the singles "Know Yr Onion!" and "The Past and the Pending" kept the Shins' success going into 2002, cementing Oh, Inverted World as one of the definitive indie rock albums of the early 2000s and the band as one of the style's definitive artists.

By the time the band recorded their second album, Chutes Too Narrow, Langford was replaced on bass by Dave Hernandez (ex-Scared of Chaka). The album appeared in fall 2003, their first to reach the Billboard charts. The Shins' profile increased drastically the next year when actor Zach Braff included several of their songs in his 2004 movie Garden State with one of the main characters going so far as to proclaim that "New Slang" would "change your life." Its follow-up, Wincing the Night Away, appeared in January 2007 and sold over a staggering 100,000 copies in its first week. The Shins had never before hit higher than number 86 on the Billboard charts, but the album's sales snagged the guys a debut spot of number two. (This was also a record for Sub Pop itself, as the label had only previously peaked at number 79 with the Afghan Whigs' 1996 album Black Love.) It was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Album.

In 2008, the band announced that their contract with Sub Pop was up, and that their next album would be released through Mercer's own Aural Apothecary label. The resulting Port of Morrow featured an all new backing band, including fellow songwriters Jessica Dobson and Richard Swift, Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer, and Yuuki Matthews from the Crystal Skulls. It arrived in March 2012, received generally positive reviews, and promptly reached number three on the Billboard charts.


The Shins are an American indie rock band from Albuquerque, New Mexico, formed in 1996. The band's current lineup consists of James Mercer (vocals, guitar, songwriter), Joe Plummer (drums), Jessica Dobson (guitar), Yuuki Matthews (bass), and Richard Swift (keyboards). The band is based in Portland, Oregon.


History1.1 From Flake Music to The Shins (1992–2000)1.2 The Sub Pop years (2001–2008)1.3 Leaving Sub Pop, Aural Apothecary, and Port of Morrow (2008–present)


From Flake Music to The Shins (1992–2000)[edit]

The Shins began in 1996 in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a side project for singer-songwriter James Mercer, whose primary band was "Flake Music." Mercer had formed Flake Music in 1992 with Neal Langford on guitar, Phil Higgs and Marty Crandall on bass, and Jesse Sandoval on drums. During the next five years Flake Music released several singles and a full-length album, and began touring, largely due to the help of other bands like Modest Mouse.

In 1996, Mercer began writing what would eventually become The Shins' first record. Flake Music came to an end around this time leaving Mercer with an opportunity to record Nature Bears a Vacuum, a 7" EP released by Omnibus Records. For their earliest shows, The Shins performed as a duo with Mercer, recruiting Sandoval to play drums. Nature Bears a Vacuum was released with no expectations of expanding the band's following beyond Albuquerque. However, the single generated enough attention that Mercer felt it necessary to assemble a full band. Martin Crandall was brought into the fold on keyboards, and Dave Hernandez (front-man of local punk legends Scared of Chaka, which had played dozens of shows with Flake Music) on bass.

After a year, during which half the songs on the debut album Oh, Inverted World (including "New Slang") were penned, Hernandez left and moved to New York City. He was replaced by Neal Langford, and the group then embarked on a tour with Modest Mouse.

The Sub Pop years (2001–2008)[edit]

At a San Francisco performance with Modest Mouse in 2000, Sub Pop's Jonathan Poneman asked The Shins to contribute a single to the label's Single of the Month Club, which eventually became an offer to release The Shins' 2001 single, "New Slang", and their debut album, Oh, Inverted World. The group spent the rest of the year touring. The release of singles such as "Know Your Onion!" and "The Past and Pending" kept The Shins' success going into 2002, cementing Oh, Inverted World as one of the definitive indie-rock albums of the early '00s and The Shins as one of the genre's leading younger bands. It received critical acclaim for its lyrically deft and jangly pop sound. The song "One by One All Day" was featured in the 2003 film A Guy Thing, starring Jason Lee. Two other songs from this album, "Caring Is Creepy" and "New Slang", were featured prominently on the soundtrack for the 2004 film Garden State, starring and directed by Zach Braff, exposing the music of The Shins to a much wider audience. Their music was also featured in the television series The O.C. and Scrubs and the film The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. They also performed on an episode of Gilmore Girls. Oh, Inverted World appeared at No. 71 on Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Albums of 2000–2004.

The band relocated from Albuquerque to Portland, Oregon in 2001. Mercer, Sandoval and Crandall made the move, while Langford decided to leave the band, staying in Albuquerque so he could continue with another of his passions, professional hot air ballooning. Dave Hernandez (at this point living in nearby Seattle) rejoined The Shins in 2003 playing guitar and bass. The band began tracking new material in Mercer's basement that summer. In an effort to balance the home-recording method used on Oh, Inverted World with a studio finish, producer Phil Ek (Built To Spill, Modest Mouse) was brought in to mix and produce the album. Chutes Too Narrow was released by Sub Pop in the fall of 2003. In 2006, the band helped to curate an edition of the British All Tomorrow's Parties festival. Nonstop touring of everywhere from Australia to Norway, as well as the US countless times over contributed to pushing sales past 500,000 worldwide, exceeding everyone's expectations, including the band's. Chutes Too Narrow appeared at No. 47 on Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Albums of 2000–2004.

An enhanced single release in 2004 included a live version of "New Slang" recorded with Iron and Wine, a studio mix of "Fighting in a Sack", a multimedia version of "So Says I", and a cover of the Marc Bolan song "Baby Boomerang". The Shins have also recorded a cover of "We Will Become Silhouettes" by The Postal Service, which was released on that group's 2003 single "Such Great Heights". On May 9, 2005, the video for "Pink Bullets" (directed by Adam Bizanski), was one of the first videos to demonstrate iTunes music store's new capability to sell videos.

In a Pitchfork Media interview, Mercer announced that Eric Johnson of fellow Sub Pop band Fruit Bats had joined the Shins.

The band's third album, Wincing the Night Away, was recorded in Portland during 2006 by a largely solo Mercer, but with the production assistance of Joe Chiccarelli. Production was also done by Phil Ek on "Australia", "Girl Sailor" and "Phantom Limb". It was released on January 23, 2007 and debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200 album chart with 118,000 copies sold in its first week, the highest sales week and chart position an album released solely on Sub Pop has ever achieved. The album was leaked to the Internet on October 20, 2006 and was available for pre-order on iTunes, with an extra track. It was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award in the category of Best Alternative Music Album.

In 2007 the band did a Take-Away show acoustic video session shot by Vincent Moon, and recorded a version of Pete Seeger's "Little Boxes" for the Showtime series Weeds. On November 27, 2007, the group was featured on a Darfur charity album released by Waxploitation.

On January 13, 2007, the Shins performed as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live to promote Wincing the Night Away]]. They performed the songs "Phantom Limb" from Wincing the Night Away and "New Slang" from Oh, Inverted World.

In December 2007, the band designed a charity t-shirt for the Yellow Bird Project to raise money for The Nature Conservancy.

On January 24, 2008, "The Past and Pending" was played at the funeral of Heath Ledger.

Leaving Sub Pop, Aural Apothecary, and Port of Morrow (2008–present)[edit]

On June 20, 2008, the band announced that their three record Sub Pop contract had been fulfilled and that the next Shins' record would be released on James Mercer's own label, Aural Apothecary.

According to an interview published on Pitchfork Media on May 6, 2009, "keyboardist Marty Crandall and drummer Jesse Sandoval had been replaced by Ron Lewis from Grand Archives and the Fruit Bats on bass and Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse on drums". In the same interview, Mercer said the next record "is still in its very early stages" and that he's "aiming for a release early next year". Regarding the lineup change, he commented that "I started to have production ideas that basically required some other people", but that he "wouldn't say I'd never work with them again".

In a lengthy interview published in The Portland Mercury, former drummer Jesse Sandoval claimed that his departure from the band was not due to "aesthetic differences", but rather that he was fired, saying, "I understand [Mercer is] probably doing it out of respect for me reading interviews, it might be hard for him to say it, but... I got fired. There's no other way of looking at it."

On August 1, 2011, Pitchfork reported that The Shins would be releasing an album in 2012 on Mercer's Aural Apothecary Label, via Columbia Records. The Shins also announced additional tour dates for their North American tour. The new band backing Mercer on this tour include singer/songwriter Richard Swift, Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer, Yuuki Matthews of Crystal Skulls and guitarist Jessica Dobson, who has performed as "Deep Sea Diver" and worked as a guitarist with Beck.

On December 14, they announced their latest album, Port of Morrow, which was released March 20, 2012. They revealed the cover art for the album as well, designed by Jacob Escobedo. They also released their first track for the new album "Simple Song" on January 9. The band released their video for "Simple Song" globally on February 21, 2012. The song is also featured in "Something New", the eighth season finale of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother, which aired on May 13, 2013.

Their song "No Way Down" is featured in the 2012 film The Amazing Spider-Man.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).


CurrentJames Mercer – lead vocals, guitar (1996–present)Joe Plummer – drums, percussion (2009–present)Yuuki Matthews – bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (2011–present)Jessica Dobson – guitar, backing vocals (2011–present)Richard Swift – keyboards, piano, organ, synthesizers, percussion, drone box, backing vocals (2011–present)FormerJesse Sandoval – drums, percussion (1996–2009)Martin Crandall – keyboards, bass guitar, backing vocals (1998–2009)Dave Hernandez – guitar, bass guitar, backing vocals (1998–2000, 2003–2009)Neal Langford – bass guitar (2000–2003)Mikael YeungEric Johnson – piano, keyboards, backing vocals (2007–2011)Ron Lewis – bass guitar (2009–2011)

Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

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Video from YouTube

  • thumbnail from The Shins - New Slang (Live at #VEVOSXSW 2012) The Shins - New Slang (Live at #VEVOSXSW 2012)
  • thumbnail from The Shins - Sleeping Lessons The Shins - Sleeping Lessons
  • thumbnail from The Shins - No Way Down (In The Studio) The Shins - No Way Down (In The Studio)
  • thumbnail from The Shins - Full Performance (Live on KEXP) The Shins - Full Performance (Live on KEXP)


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