Ever heard of The Shins? They were a nice indie success with songs such as Phantom Limb and New Slang (which was featured in the movie Garden State).
Ever heard of DJ Danger Mouse? He broke onto the music scene when he released his amazing mix-tape The Grey Album - a mash-up of Jay-Z’s Black Album and The Beatle’s White Album. It has amazing tracks that remove the need to imagine what Jay-Z would sound like rapping over the music of The Beatles (he’s also half the duo of Gnarls Barkley).
To the delight of fans DJ Danger Mouse and The Shins’ lead singer and guitarist James Mercer joined creative forces and formed their own band. They named themselves Broken Bells and their debut album comes out today, March 9th 2010.
When I found out that they were playing a concert in Brooklyn on March 10th I was overjoyed. I haven’t been to a concert in a while and I’ve been itching to find a new show to see. Tickets went on sale on Friday at noon. I set myself up in front of my computer at a quarter-to-twelve and waited till it was time to buy. At noon I clicked “buy”. A few seconds later the page refreshed and told me that it can’t find any tickets that meet my criteria.
This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. I’ve been locked out of many other concerts before and understood why. For some reason I became extremely irritated that this happened for this concert. Perhaps it was due to my great desire to see this band, perhaps it was due to my belief that the tickets wouldn’t sell out so fast because the band is new and relatively unknown. Or perhaps it’s due to there being a pre-sale period for the concert tickets and my illogical hunch that all the tickets were already sold when the clock struck 12. I’m assuming Ticketmaster reserves tickets for general sale but I would be naive to believe Ticketmaster has never let a concert sell-out through pre-sale tickets alone.
With my rant out of the way would you care to hear a review of Broken Bells’ debut album?
Then let’s get on with it.
There isn’t much wrong with the album. Let’s establish this right away. Each track has been meticulously produced. Each second of audio has been analyzed and revised to perfection. The album flows amidst itself as well as allows for each track to stand by itself.
The unique styles of DJ Danger Mouse and The Shins’ James Mercer have resulted in a nice combination of their musical talents. It’s nice hearing Mercer’s guitar stylings and Danger Mouse’s drum production. Each of their talents are clearly exhibited.
However that is one complaint I have with this record. It clearly sounds like Mercer and Danger Mouse took each of their talents and added them together. I would have preferred a greater mixture of their talents, one that resulted in more of an overlap of who they are as artists. Rather than 5+5=10 I would have liked to hear 5x5=25. 25 is a bigger number than 10 and a conclusive argument for why adding musical talents cannot outmatch multiplying musical talents. (that was a sarcastic comment)
The album opens with their first single, The High Road. The song is awesome - really and truly awesome. If anything this song comes closest to achieving a ’25’ through multiplication of Mercer and Mouses’ talents. It rollicks along with the help of Mercer’s voice and Mouse’s beat. It’s a lovely lovely song. I recommend you give it a listen.
However there isn’t another track that equals the overall quality of The High Road. In saying this I want to make clear that the other songs on the album are in no way bad. Each song is very good - with some better than others. However The High Road is without a doubt the breakout track.
Another complaint I have of this album is its release date. This album is being released today, March 9th 2010, on the eve of spring. It is not a spring album. The overall sentiment of this album is one of ice, cold, and dark. It’s an album that I’ll turn on when I start to hear the crickets chirping. For that mood this album is great. For daytime jams I’m probably going to turn to Gorillaz’s new album (review coming soon!?).
Although I have my complaints about this album they are mostly a result of my deep respect for the talents of these musicians. I expect great things from them and even when greatness is delivered I find a way that a higher plateau could have been reached.
In any event, thank you for your music Broken Bells. And Ticketmaster - you’re going to bed without dinner.