Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pop Obsession of the Moment...

I purchased the Shins' latest Wincing the Night Away way back in the dead of February and at the time I gave it a quick, cursory listen. It ended up on a pile of CDs unplayed for these many months before I dragged it out again recently and loaded it into my iPod for a second try. Well, needless to say, it has received numerous spins over these past few weeks and is fast becoming my favorite disc of the year. For a music lover, there is nothing better than purchasing a disc that leaves you flat initially but then slowly, inexorably reveals tantalizing beauty and mystery. Wincing the Night Away is just such a disc for me.

The first single off the CD, Phantom Limb is jaw-droppingly wonderful and lead vocalist/songwriter James Mercer's melodic voice reminds me of what the Zombies might sound like if they were reincarnated as a twenty-first century indiepop band. This is guitar-based pop music of the highest order and is a worthy successor to their critically acclaimed Oh, Inverted World, and Chutes Too Narrow. By the way, if you should happen to be in Seattle in September, the Shins will be playing Bumbershoot September 1st!


Anonymous said...

Yeah, Them boys got the hooks. I hope they're making money.

TMink said...

Sounds a bit like Brian singing. On a good day.


steve simels said...

I hear more Brian than Zombies as well.

I'll grant you the song makes all the right (by the book) moves, but these guys are still a little too twee for my taste. Totally unremarkable guitarists, and the whole thing sounds like they're kind of embarassed to do anything as vulgar as actually rock out.

I can see how it could get under your skin, though...

Kid Charlemagne said...

Hi Trey and Steve,

Sure, Brian W. is the obvious call on this, but I just keep getting a really strong Colin Blunstone vibe for some reason.

Steve, I think the background instrumentation on this track is purposely understated because the melody is completely driven by Mercer's vocals.

Also, I would be *really* interested in how you define "twee" given you are also someone who digs the Left Banke. I think they pretty much define the term, but I may be wrong. ;>

"Barterers and Their Wives" is not twee??

steve simels said...

KC --

Everything I've heard by these guys has always sounded instrumentally too, when I saw them on -- was it SNL? Or maybe Dave or Conan...No oomph.

But you're right -- the Left Bank had their twee moments (of course, they also rocked out -- "She May Call You Up Tonight" completely kicks) -- but for me they're almost always redeemed by Brown's perfect melodies and Steve Martin's exquisite vocals.

For these guys I just can't make the leap of faith.


TMink said...

KC, sounding like Brian is a good thing in my book. But who is this Colin Blunstone you speak of????

I am over budget for music purchases thanks to you guys, so more cds will have to wait.


TMink said...

OK, speaking of the Zombies, this is a bit, well, twee.


NYMary said...

Kid C,
Delighted to see this--it just sat there for me, too. I'll pick it up again.

Do you have the other CDs? Because I think "Turn a Square" is pretty much a perfect pop song, as these things go.

Kid Charlemagne said...


As you probably figured out by now, Colin was the lead singer of the Zombies. He has also done some pretty lovely solo stuff that some might call, well, "twee"! :o)

TMink said...

I need to get this word crush out of my system.

Trey (tired of being obsessed with twee)

Anonymous said...

have you listened to Chutes too Narrow - the songs Kissing the lipless, So Says I are pretty rocking - it's all about the voice and lyrics
Nobody sounds good on SNL - I don't know why I keep watching bands on that show.