The SHINS – ” Heartworms “

Posted: March 11, 2017 in Classic Albums, MUSIC
Tags: , ,

Today marks the release of The Shins new album “Heartworms”. However, the record may actually just be the first taste of something more to come, as the band has revealed that they recorded an alternate, “flipped” version.

According to a press release, James Mercer undertook a songwriting exercise in which he rewrote each song “from scratch” until he had two completely different albums. “Mercer’s ability to create two totally divergent albums from the same underlying compositions not only highlights his immense capability as a songwriter,” explains the press release, “but also functions as a reminder of what it means to be an artist, how an artist acts as both the master and facilitator of his artistic product.”

Our first listen to what this “parallel reality” album sounds like comes thanks to the twin videos for “Name For You”. the band have released the album version of the track. Directed by The Shins’ drummer Jon Sortland, the video follows skateboarders Savannah Headden and Samarria Brevard on a lo-fi day in Southern California.
Now take a listen to the “flipped” version, which is a far darker, new-wave take on the catchy single. The video for this version was directed by Zaiba Jabbar with help from Sortland and Mark Watrous, and it stars Transparent actress Trace Lysette. If you head to The Shins’ website, you can play both videos simultaneously, seamlessly switching back and forth with an interactive switch. There’s no word yet on when we might get a listen to the entire alternate versions of Heartworms, so lookout for more details .
In addition to the videos and new music, The Shins have expanded the itinerary for one of the most anticipated tours this year .

The Shins are normally focused on the future, but “Heartworms”, their first album in five years and fifth since 2001, takes a small step into the past. From the first notes of opening track “Name for You”, we get a hint that this album may not stray too far from its predecessors. The nicely placed “Mildenhall” hearkens back to old Shins music. We hear an acoustic guitar and distant, gentle electronic beats accompanying James Mercer as he shows off his lower range. In a Willie Nelson-esque singing style, he remembers being a lonely boy, moving around the country because his father, a member of the Royal Air Force, had to transfer locations. After a classmate passes Mercer a tape, he finds a passion for music and, as he sings: “That’s how we get to where we are now.”

Fans respect artists who evolve, improve, and explore new sounds, or some combination of those. And it’s not always pretty, but it’s admirable as long as done valiantly and with curiosity. The Shins tried to do that; they attempted to step out of their comfort zone with Heartworms.

Another lyric that takes us down memory highway surfaces in “So Now What”. After introducing the song with a mini-me of the iconic synth in The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly”, The Shins put the most memorable melody of the album in the chorus of this song. “I had this crazy idea,” Mercer sings. “Somehow we’d coast to the end/ Change lies in every direction, tonight/ Guess we’ll just begin again.”

Besides these two songs, the record’s other high point is “Painting a Hole”, a song with a contagious beat and somewhat ominous la-las. The synth-keyboard sound pulses while the bass runs, sliding up and down the neck. Once you hit the chorus, Mercer shows off his edgier falsetto. Fortunately, the album sends us off with the best song, the “The Fear”. It begins with a kick-ride-rim shot combo, joined by a mandolin and violins, Even though most of the song consists of two chords, it quickly proves itself to be the perfect ending to decent collection of songs.

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