Sunday Morning Music: Feel Absolutely No Sorrow With The Shins Port Of Morrow

The best movie soundtracks, in my humble opinion, do two things…

They feature songs that help tell the story of the film… In fact, sometimes you can know the entire story by simply listening to the soundtrack.

(This is just a little hint as to what is coming next week!)

Second, they introduce you to new songs or artists you might not know otherwise.  I would LOVE to be a Music Supervisor…

The master of the soundtrack is Cameron Crowe.  Music is such a vital and integral part of his films.  Brilliant.  Elizabethtown introduced me to My Morning Jacket… and you KNOW how much I love them!  Thanks, Cameron!!!

Two non-Crowe soundtracks that stand out to me are High Fidelity, which introduced me to The Beta Band… and featured 13th Floor Elevators, my friend John Wesley Harding, Stereolab and The Velvet Underground… and Garden State, which introduced me to today’s artist.

Natalie Portman’s character Sam says (referring to “New Slang” by The Shins):  “You gotta hear this one song. It’ll change your life, I swear.”

This amazing soundtrack also features Zero 7, Colin Hay, Nick Drake, Thievery Corporation and Iron & Wine.  I swear Zach Braff (NU Alum) snuck into my CD collection!

Did The Shins change my life?  Well… they did change my musical landscape and I loved them from there on in.  Wincing The Night Away is one of my all-time favorite albums… and this one is really enjoyable…

The Shins – Port Of Morrow

Essentially, The Shins started as a side project of Flake/Flake Music and were a duo with frontman James Mercer and drummer Jesse Sandoval.  Members like Marty Crandall (Flake/Flake Music), Dave Hernandez (Sacred of Chaka), Ron Skrasek (Sacred of Chaka) and Neal Langford (Flake/Flake Music) also joined the Shins and would come and go.

James is the only original member left here, following his last project, which was another love of mine… Broken Bells with Danger Mouse.

The LA Times says:  “On the new “Port of Morrow,” with multi-instrumentalist and co-producer Greg Kurstin, Mercer lets in more electronica than ever — an invigorating shift. But the changes show that the Shins, once the poster act of sing-along-and-cry indie rock, is an identity that Mercer, the only original member left, may have outgrown.”

To them the album “feels like an announcement — exciting but unresolved — of what’s still yet to come.”

AllMusic agrees that it “departs from the Shins’ classic sound.”  They conclude their review by saying “it might be a little disingenuous to call this a Shins album, and slightly disappointing for any fans who had invested in them being a band rather than a James Mercer vehicle. Questions of semantics and authenticity aside, Port of Morrow’s songs are compelling enough to keep most fans listening and enjoying.”

I do agree with both of those assessments.  This is not really a Shins record, but at this point James can do and say whatever he wants, and on its own, without “labels”, this is a really good album.

I first heard “Simple Song” a while ago as it was a free, teaser download.  I dug it off the bat and it still may be my favorite track.

“It’s Only Life” and “Bait And Switch” are great songs, too… and I love the falsetto.

My other standouts are:  “For A Fool” and the popinfluenced “Fall of ’82” with the Bacharach-sounding horns.  AllMusic mentions Billy Joel on that last one.  Hmmm… The album seems to get poppier as it goes on, and the last “trippy and torchy” track, the title song, opens with a very female sounding “slinky falsetto.”

You know I have no issue with poppy sounding songs, just interesting to note.

Enjoy your rainy Sunday… Stay dry and safe!

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Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me, One Thumb - My Movie Reviews

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