The Shins

THE SHINS' Official Website!

By Chris Smith

WHEN: 1997 – present

CULPRITS: James Mercer (guitar, singer), Ron Lewis (bass), Dave Hernandez (guitar/bass), Joe Plummer (drums), Eric Johnson (guitar) / Former members: Jesse Sandoval (drums), Marty Crandall (keyboard), Neal Langford (guitar),

ALBUMS: Nature Bears a Vacuum (1998); Oh, Inverted World (2001); Know Your Onion EP (2002); So Says I EP (2003); Chutes Too Narrow (2003); Wincing the Night Away (2007)

HOW: To be completely honest, I have no clue of the exact way I came to love these guys.  All I remember is watching the movie Garden State, hearing Natalie Portman’s character talk about how awesome they were and thinking, “Natalie Portman likes the same music as me! Yes! I have a chance!” (I am still holding on to that thought and hoping one day I will get the chance to talk to her about our mutual love of The Shins — if she actually likes them, that is).  I would guess that somewhere between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college I stumbled across this group and fell in love with their catchy tunes.  I recently found copies of mix CDs I made back then and The Shins somehow found their way onto a lot of them.  And then, when Garden State came out, I really dove into all of their music again.  I got all of it that I could find; I even found some music from Flake (a few of the members old band); basically I just immersed myself in their music.

“Kissing the Lipless” from Chutes Too Narrow

WHY: The Shins have a way of singing about some depressing stuff while sounding surprisingly upbeat; it’s weird, but I love it.  They sing about heartbreak, loneliness, and everything that follows.  James Mercer is great at putting it all out there without making you want to either cry for him or tell him to grow a pair and get over it.  Their songs are catchy, too.  I get some of these songs stuck in my head for days after listening to one of the albums.  Not stuck in an annoying way, but in a way that makes me walk to a different beat, or makes me hum that song all day long and smile, even if it is about losing a girlfriend or whatever.  Their songs have everything I look for in a song, great imagery, good music, and a front man with a great voice that does not get annoying no matter how long I listen to him.  I think a big part of why I like The Shins so much is how they take me back to a different time in my life. Regardless, I hope you enjoy The Shins — they are worth a long listen!

“Pink Bullets” from Chutes Too Narrow

SONGS: I did my best to include all of their more popular music, because that is how people tend to get hooked on them.  And I believe I did a good job of taking a good sampling of all of their albums.  I did not include songs from their EPs, mainly because they are better to listen to once you have a grasp of them as a band and not while you are still getting to know them.  It is kind of like someone telling you their entire life story ten minutes after you meet them; it can be a little off-putting.  Anyway, I think this is a perfect introduction to The Shins; if anyone thinks I left some stuff out, please leave some comments and let others know.

“Phantom Limb” from Wincing the Night Away

LINK: Click on the list below to hear THE SHINS for free on!

Click on the list to hear THE SHINS for free on!


Chris Smith spends his time serving up steaming cups of coffee at an It’s A Grind coffee house in Austin, Texas. When not at the coffee shop, he enjoys tossing frisbees around, spending too much time in book stores, and finding new TV shows to watch on Hulu. He is also somewhat obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman.

~ by Patrick Gosnell on November 5, 2009.

One Response to “The Shins”

  1. If you’re interested, I posted the B-side to the Phantom Limb single on my blog.

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