When frontmen go on solo tours as rumors of new albums swirl, there is a good chance they’ll road-test some possible material on you. These performances used to be intimate moments: an artist sharing something that was, at that point in time, reserved only for those lucky enough to be in the audience. But now that anyone can whip out their phone, press record, and have it uploaded to YouTube by the time the next song begins, these moments have become a little less confidential. And now we’re in on it, too.
Many of us had given up hope on The Shins. Sure, they’ve been known to take their time getting around to releasing new records. Sure, Eric Johnson of the Fruit Bats dispelled some of our worries by confirming that The Shins were still a band and explaining that everyone was just a little too busy to focus on the follow-up to 2007′s Wincing the Night Away when we spoke to him last year. But this reassurance came even as James Mercer joined forces with producer Danger Mouse and began charting new musical territory as Broken Bells. Last year’s self-titled album was recently followed by the Meyrin Fields EP, and the collaboration began to feel a bit more like a band than a side project. And so we accepted that maybe this time The Shins were gone for good. Read More »