This band will change your life: The Shins

Genres (Wikipedia’s version): Indie rock/alternative rock/folk rock/dream pop/indie rock/surf rock

Genres (my version): Sunshine rock/prose rock/jangly twisty-ness/polite rage/sardonic pop/shimmeriness/the-Cure-meets-the-Beach-Boys-alternative/deceptively harmless-alternative-rock/gossamer sex

James Mercer is a poet. He and the Shins have been writing the music of my soul since the early 2000’s. Oh my goodness, if only I didn’t have a one-track mind, if only I could listen to the Shins’ gorgeousness AND type this up at the same time, I would. I would do that so hard.

Magic.  This is the word that drifts lazily into my head when I listen to James Mercer’s wavering falsetto ride waves of jangling guitars. Their sound is so warm, so affecting – it’s almost threatening.

They sound like if the Kinks and the Beach Boys all had an orgy, somehow got pregnant, raised their baby in north California amongst redwoods and dappled sunlight, and that baby grew up and moved to Portland, Oregon, where all the weirdos are.

The-Shins
[from left to right] Somebody, somebody else, third somebody, photobomb, and James Mercer
And this really is not the best part, oh no. The best part is, they don’t sing about happy things. No, these guys sing about alienation, jadedness, being awkward, yearning, isolation, rage… All the while using beautiful, sardonic lines like ‘I surrender all my gall in a song of modern love‘. How’s that for style?

Dry, introspective sunshine. That’s what these guys are. Man, I am so in love.

I’ve been in love since Natalie Portman first told Zach Braff “this song will change your life“. Hell, I’ve been in love with Natalie Portman since Natalie Portman first told Zach Braff “this song will change your life”. (If you don’t know know what the hell I’m talking about, click here).

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a dried-up, old proto-hipster from the 2000’s who’s got nothing better to do than squeal with delight like a baby when she puts on her earbuds. All I know is that this band has shaken me to my very core, and that my heart will always hurt and rejoice when I hear the Shins.

A couple of my favorite tracks. My God, it was so hard to choose:

Caring Is Creepy, Oh, Inverted World, 2001 – This is pretty much as angry and ‘heavy metal’ the Shins will ever get.

Girl Sailor, Wincing the Night Away, 2007Truly lovely. Imagine, when you are listening to this song, that you are a world-weary girl who’s had her heart broken too many times, and James Mercer is your dear guardian angel who has seen you crash and burn all your life, and is gently telling your imperfect heart that it’s okay to make mistakes, and to rest your defeated soul for a little while.

 


 

Day 12: Critique a Piece of Work
Today, express your opinion on a topic or a piece of work. This is your opportunity to comment on something you’re passionate about, or review a piece of art or entertainment that you love or despise. 

You can approach this assignment in your own style and preferred format. Here are some ideas:

  • Review something you’ve recently read, watched, or experienced: a book, movie, TV show, art exhibit, festival, or something else. Check out Kira Bindrim’s Sorry Television and the film and television posts of Alec Nevala-Lee for examples of review and culture writing.
  • Offer your perspective on a topic of your choice (from politics to public education, from feminism to the environment, and much more). Address the topic from a specific angle or respond to a recent piece of news, which may tighten your piece. Check out blogs like I Am Begging My Mother Not to Read This Blog and The Boeskool to see how writers offer their perspectives on hot and relevant topics.
  • Write a “letter to the editor”-style piece about a local or community issue that you’d love to see resolved.
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One thought on “This band will change your life: The Shins

  1. Fun post!

    They sound like if the Kinks and the Beach Boys all had an orgy, somehow got pregnant, raised their baby in north California amongst redwoods and dappled sunlight, and that baby grew up and moved to Portland, Oregon, where all the weirdos are.

    Great line — made me laugh.

    Like

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