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The Shins

The Shins Announce New Album 'Heartworms,' Release Tour Dates and Second Single "Name For You"

New Music, Music NewsWeston PaganoComment

Sometimes it's amazing to reflect on how abstract and seemingly random band names become unquestionably normal to us over the years. We give no second thought to Spoon being a music group first and a utensil second, and the oddly conflagrant face value of Arcade Fire is but a distant memory.

So too with The Shins, about as veteran an act as the indie circuit gets with any remaining relevance, can we take a moment to smile at their curious name with fresh eyes. "What's in a name?" is also the repeated question James Mercer asks in "Name For You," the second single from their finally announced fifth LP Heartworms.

Following "Dead Alive," "Name For You" is a sunny track dealing with labels and societal pressures on women today that does what Mercer does best; combining depth in meaning with a flawless pop exterior. There's still no release date, but the forthcoming record due out this year via Columbia now has cover art and some supporting tour dates, both of which you can find below after pressing play.

On First Solo Album, 'Use Your Delusion,' Man Man's Honus Honus Does Just That

Music ReviewWeston PaganoComment

Until Use Your Delusion, Man Man and Mister Heavenly maverick Honus Honus’ debut solo release, there had never before been a record you could fund in part with the purchase of a $666 denim vest and a disposable camera full of images of faked deaths. But, then again, there has never before been an artist with quite the same bizarro charm as Honus, either.

Despite flying solo, Honus (née Ryan Kattner) is backed by quite the supporting cast: Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse, The Shins, Cold War Kids, Mister Heavenly) pilots the percussion, King Cyrus King (Super Deluxe) contributes production and guitar, Dann Gallucci (Modest Mouse, The Murder City Devils, Cold War Kids) handles mixing, comedian Jon Daly is on sax, and even polymath Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Got a Girl, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 10 Cloverfield Lane) and Shannon Shaw (Shannon and the Clams) feature.

Still, it’s clear the self-released Use Your Delusion is a cathartic release of the chaotic menagerie stirring in its creator’s wildly whiskered head, loosened by the freedom of truly setting out on one’s own. It’s not easy to match the dynamic eclection of his Man Man discography, but Honus damn near tops it in half an hour. For example, the accessible pop of ”Heavy Jesus" leans more On Oni Pond, “Will You?”’s soothing piano is very Rabbit Habits, and the "sour milk and cocaine" death metal freak of ”Red Velvet" might feel most at home writhing on Six Demon Bag. But Honus explores brand new territory as well with the nearly David Gilmour-worthy guitar solo of “Santa Monica” and the surprise amusement of what can be likened to Eric Idle-esque pomp on album closer “Empty Bottle.”

Having moved his dystopian sound to the west coast, the “apocalyptic LA pop” vibe rings clearest through the surfy tones in the nimble guitar work most notably on single “Oh No!”. Set to lines like “Happiness is just an accident wearing different clothes,” it’s an artfully classic example of sad sentiments stuck in a sunny song. “Your heart is bubble-wrapped in permanent depression,” he coos too a deft touch of sax and an almost reggae pulse resulting in a deceptively delightful package. “Will You?” in turn matches its “Rabbit Habits” keys to the sunlit savagery of a suicide prolonged awaiting love with a paradoxical knowingness few could pull off with sincerity.

First single, “Heavy Jesus,” is similarly bouncy, but replaces the angst with heretic hilarity. They say God works in mysterious ways, but Jesus himself appearing to an unwilling heavy metal disciple via a late night quesadilla is certainly a new one. Use Your Delusion would lend itself well to a similar marketing campaign; It’s not hard to imagine midnight taco trucks blaring this album like an ice cream truck jingle gone rogue.

On “Midnight Caller” Honus claims, “I don’t see any point in honesty / ‘Cause honestly, it’s the worst / And honestly, honesty can take a long walk off a short pier,” with wordplay reminiscent of “Van Helsing Boombox.” Yet Use Your Delusion, nor any other song he’s ever sung, rings hollow or faked, even at his most maniacal. The word “carnivalesque” gets thrown around a lot when describing Honus’ repertoire, but endearingly that’s just what it often is. Honus howls, trapped in a house of mirrors that beautifully distorts the fits and visions of his genius. The alien bearded lady won’t stop screaming.

When Honus first spoke about the then-unannounced LP in an interview we did last year, he told us much of Use Your Delusion would be increasingly gentle on the vocal cords for a couple of reasons; One, Honus was shredding his pipes singing his older material and needed to tone it down in the interest of sustainability, and two, he sang more quietly in his LA practice space out of discomfort with an FKA Twigs knockoff and Bruce Springsteen cover band flanking him through either wall. I like to imagine somewhere they’re giving interviews about the shock of hearing “Red Velvet” from the other room.

Read our full in-depth interview with Honus Honus about Use Your Delusion, Man Man, Mister Heavenly and more, here. Buy Use Your Delusion here.

The Shins Return at Their Most Playful and Spooky on New Music Video "Dead Alive"

New MusicWeston PaganoComment

It turns out The Shins are still alive after all... or sort of. While we may not be getting LP5 until some time next year after the release date was pushed back to secure a more favorable position on Coachella's lineup, Columbia Records threw fans a bone today with "Dead Alive," a new music video fronted by a skeleton James Mercer and some classic dream sequence trickery.

Appropriately spooky for the Halloween season, it's their first release since 2014's contribution to Zach Braff's Wish I Was Here, "So Now What," and signals a proper followup to 2012's Port of Morrow. There's some white in Mercer's beard now (!) but the indie mainstays still exude a youthful energy (and wear checkerboard vans) on the new single as they play around with various illusory effects and horror film tropes set to wistful melodies and glowing vocals.

A Very Transverso Holiday: 50 Songs for the Season

Music ListTransverso MediaComment

The holidays are a magical time of year, a time often evoked through the use of song. We at Transverso have decided to collect some of our favorite festive tunes into a playlist for you and yours to enjoy in the coming days, beginning with the original Christmas song, Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime."

These 50 seasonal tracks are sure to be the perfect soundtrack as you hang ornaments on your tree, bake cookies, or leave your young son at home without supervision in a crime-ridden Chicago suburb for an extended period of time.

Broken Bells Are Back With "It's That Talk Again"

New MusicWeston PaganoComment

The Shins' James Mercer and the ever-prolific Danger Mouse have already released two moving LPs as part of their Broken Bells collaboration, and today we get a small taste of something new with one-off space disco single "It's That Talk Again." 

The groovy track adorned with Mercer's searching vocals comes ahead of the concert film Broken Bells: Live At The Orpheum being premiered at Palladia on Saturday. Immerse yourself in it below:

Members of The Shins, Cold War Kids, and Tijuana Panthers Form New Supergroup, Coromandelles

Music News, New MusicWeston PaganoComment
Photo by Sean Flynn

Photo by Sean Flynn

Meet the newest supergroup on the scene, Coromandelles, a self-described "faux-French contemporary punk" trio fronted by Tijuana Panthers' Daniel Michicoff with Cold War Kids members Matt Maust (his second side-project in barely a year, after French Style Furs) and Joe Plummer on bass/artwork and drums, respectively. (Plummer, who also plays the role of engineer for the group, has apparently started a quest to become a member of every band ever after his eight-year stint with Modest Mouse ended in 2012, and is also a member of The Shins and yet another supergroup, Mister Heavenly.)

Their debut album Late Bloomers' Bloomers will be released October 20 on vinyl via Porch Party Records and tape cassette via Burger Records, and has been mixed by Plummer's Shins bandmate Yukki Matthews. According to a press release, the album "is about finding the enjoyment in being derailed [and] rolls through moments of anxiety, doubt, and hope." Oddly enough, the lyrics are also largely in French.

Only an incredibly brief teaser has been released officially, though a twitter exchange between Michikcoff and comedian Cameron Esposito last December reveals the first track, "Cameronrhea" (or "Cameronria," depending where you look), was written about Esposito and her fiancee Rhea Butcher, and links to a playlist on Michicoff's Soundcloud page that appears to contain all 10 tracks plus an 11th non-album track, "Précision." Check them both out, along with the official album artwork and tracklist, below.

Late Bloomers' Bloomers

  1. Cameronria – 4:07
  2. New Ordain – 2:30
  3. The Project – 3:39
  4. Mon Chemin – 4:25
  5. Jaq – 4:09
  6. Late Bloomers – 2:06
  7. Bumble Bee – 3:20
  8. Le Revev – 3:30
  9. End Of Mad Men – 3:58
  10. Seaudeaux – 4:32

10 of the Best Musical Cameos on TV

TV/Film List, Music ListEllen WilsonComment
Jack White on Portlandia

Jack White on Portlandia

1. The Shins on Gilmore Girls 

Gilmore Girls is known for their fast paced dialogue and countless pop culture references, often mentioning numerous artists an episode, so it would make sense that Rory and co would stumble upon a hip new band playing in a club while on spring break. James Mercer and band play "So Says I" for an uninterrupted minute and a half, which is a pretty impressive amount of airtime for television. Rory and friends don't arrive until the last song, though, so we can assume they are the worst concert goers ever. Shortly after you can hear "The Laws Have Changed" by The New Pornographers while Rory and Paris uncomfortable try to fit in with the club-goers stating, "no one can sniff out the hip like we can." 

2. The Decemberists on Parks and Recreation 

The Decemberists get about 30 seconds of airtime playing "Crane Wife 3" at the Pawnee-Eagletown unity concert. While they might not have gotten as much airtime as deserved the entire episode was full of additional musical guest such as Jeff Tweedy, Ginuwine, and Yo La Tengo. 


3. Jack White on Portlandia 

Jack White magically appears on the Portlandia sketch "The Studio" in which Fred's character portrays a man who has a "top notch" studio with overwhelming similarities the studio used when recording the Beach Boy's album Pet Sounds. Jack White magically appears and silently watches Fred's character as he struggles to make sense of it all. The lack of dialogue from White makes his facial expressions even more hilarious and one of the best musical guest Portlandia has locked down. 

4. Britt Daniel of Spoon in Veronica Mars

Britt sings a karaoke version of the song appropriately titled "Veronica" by Elvis Costello. The Spoon song "I Summon You" was also featured in the same episode. You can read more about Britt's decision to do the show here

5. Death Cab For Cutie on The OC 

Death Cab was famously the favorite band of OC stud Seth Cohen, despite Summer's less-than-flattering analysis, "it's one guitar and a whole lot of complaining." When the band finally appears they play a show at the infamous fictional venue, The Bait Shop, and were featured on the official soundtrack. 

6. Prince on New Girl 

Prince, the majestic being himself, guest stars in an episode of New Girl. In the episode, he plays himself and gives Jess (portrayed by Zooey Deschanel) relationship advice. The highlight, though, is when the The Purple One asks, "Do you like pancakes?" 

7. Beck on Futurama 

After Bender is hospitalized he discovers Beck's disembodied head is occupying the bed next to him. Beck then loans Bender a set of neck-mounted robotic mini-arms, and the two go on tour together as Bender uses the arms to scrape across his mangled body and earn the position of Beck's washboard player. As the episode continues, Bender writes a song about broken robots, and the duo decide to put on a benefit concert in San Francisco to help all the disabled machines. While helping Bender write a song about his feelings, disembodied Beck explains how emotion is an important part of his musical process as well, saying, "When I'm upset I write a song about it. Like when I wrote 'Devil's Haircut,' I was feeling really... what's that song about?"

8. The Beach Boys on Full House 

The Beach Boys have a long standing friendship with the Tanner family, appearing in not one, not two, but three separate episodes. The most notable episode is the one in which DJ wins two tickets to the Beach Boys show but has the tricky decision of picking which family member to take. Naturally, The Beach Boys show up and invite the whole bunch along (except for baby Michelle) to the show where they sing and do some sort of a line dance on stage. 

9. Radiohead on South Park

In this particularly dark episode, Cartman vows to take revenge after being tricked by eighth grader Scott Tenorman. Upon learning that Radiohead is Scott's favorite band, Cartman writes a letter to Radiohead claiming that Scott is a victim of "cancer, in his ass" and the British rock band visits South Park just in time to watch Scott cry after hearing he ate his parents.  

10. Sir Paul McCartney on 30 Rock 

In one of these two brilliant episodes of 30 Rock, Sir Paul McCartney appears as himself to prove the point that "it's live TV, anything can happen." The look on Alec Baldwin's bewildered face as Paul McCartney grins and slaps Baldwin's face makes this one of the best moments of 30 Rock's entire seven season run. 

'Wish I Was Here' Soundtrack Contains New Bon Iver, The Shins, and More

Music News, TV/Film NewsWeston PaganoComment

Ten years ago Zach Braff’s last film Garden State did wonders for propelling indie, specifically The Shins, into the mainstream spotlight. It seems Wish I Was Here, his Kickstarter-funded forthcoming directorial sophomore effort, will be similarly musically inspired, with a soundtrack boasting many of the screenwriter and star’s favorite artists, including Paul Simon and The Head And The Heart.

The Shins appear once again with shimmering new tune “So Now What,” with frontman James Mercer taking a break from side-project Broken Bells to write the song specifically for this sountrack. Just as wistful and dreamy as they were a decade ago, the now Portland-based sextet seem eager to reunite with Braff with lines like “I guess we’ll just begin again / I hope you know you’re my best friend” making up the soaring chorus lifted by Mercer’s gentle and softened falsetto.

Another new track commissioned for Wish I Was Here is Bon Iver’s eerie and minimalistic “Heavenly Father.” Justin Vernon’s vocals layer over a looping synth vibration in what, according to NPR, was an incredibly spontaneous recording:

They were enjoying it and laughing, but at a certain point, they just got quiet. When it was over, Justin started humming. We talked afterwards about the relationship between Zach’s character and his brother [Josh Gad], and Justin and Nate talked a little about their father — all the while Justin kept distractedly humming. Eventually, he sang out the words ‘heavenly father.’ Before I even left their house, Justin was recording the first version of the song in his downstairs studio. His inspiration was that immediate.

The complete soundtrack is due out July 15 via Columbia with the film hitting theaters three days later. There will be a separate vinyl release on August 5, with Garden State’s soundtrack being reissued the same day. Check out the tracklist below:

Wish I Was Here

  1. The Shins “So Now What”
  2. Gary Jules “Broke Window”
  3. Radical Face “The Mute”
  4. Hozier “Cherry Wine (Live)”
  5. Bon Iver “Holocene”
  6. Badly Drawn Boy “The Shining”
  7. Jump Little Children “Mexico”
  8. Cat Power & Coldplay “Wish I Was Here”
  9. Allie Moss “Wait It Out”
  10. Paul Simon “The Obvious Child”
  11. Japanese Wallpaper “Breathe In [ft. Wafia]“
  12. Bon Iver “Heavenly Father”
  13. Aaron Embry “Raven’s Song”
  14. The Weepies “Mend”
  15. The Head & the Heart “No One to Let You Down”

Originally published on The Music Ninja