Wednesday, May 12, 2010

If It Ain't Broke

The other day my alarm went off and played a song I was immediately drawn to, even in my extremely cranky and vulnerable first moments of the day. I ran into the other room and grabbed my iPhone, clicked the Shazam App and put it up to the alarm clock. 10 seconds later I discovered it was a really current sounding group called Broken Bells. I set that information aside for a few days until I went and grabbed the album.

Since I was so out of it when I first heard them, I had the unique opportunity to give it a "second-first" listen and I was still incredibly impressed. It sounded vaguely familiar though, as if it wasn't a full band but instead a "project" where one guy probably lays the instrumental track and another guy sings. Then I even  recognized the distant, distorted voice as someone I had heard before, but I just couldn't place it. It loosely reminded me of the vocals on Magical Mystery Tour (specifically Blue Jay Way) but with more of an Indie/Emo twang, (as if George Harrison wasn't Indie, maybe even Emo too. Discuss?) so I eventually just assumed it was a knockoff of the Shins. Later when I finally subjected all these baseless assumptions to the ultimate answer box: the Interwebs, I discovered Broken Bells was actually a side project between the lead singer of The Shins, James Mercer, and famed online producer, DJ Dangermouse (of Gnarls Barkley, GorillazDangerDOOM and The Grey Album fame). I guess I was pretty right. Some of the album sounds really derivative of Dangermouse and Mercer's other projects but for the most part, the combination of those wailing Indie lyrics with the one man band that is Dangermouse is probably one of the best albums I've heard all year. The single, The High Road, is out of this world, musically that is... the beginning sounds like interstellar communication from a race beyond.

Song #158: Broken Bells - The High Road

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