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The Shins Biography

The Shins

The Shins are an indie rock group comprised of singer, songwriter and guitarist James Russell Mercer, keyboardist/guitarist/bassist Martin Crandall, bassist/guitarist Dave Hernandez, drummer Jesse Sandoval, and Eric Johnson of the Fruit Bats. Their sound draws on several musical genres, including pop, alternative, alternative country, and folk. The Shins are based in Portland, Oregon.


"You don't even need a new philosophy to explain the world. Just realize that you are who you are, that no god is telling you shit, that you're just doing your little mouse-brained attempt at discovery." ~ James Mercer

The Shins began in 1997 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a side project of Mercer (previously of Blue Roof Dinner) and Neal Langford, both members of the lo-fi musical group Flake (formed in 1992). By 1999, Flake (now Flake Music) had disbanded and its former members became The Shins. (The name was based on a fictional family in the Broadway show The Music Man, a favorite of Mercer's father.) The band released two 7" singles on Omnibus - "Nature Bears A Vacuum" (1999) and "When I Goosestep" (2000) - and embarked on a tour with Modest Mouse. During the tour, they were met in San Francisco by a Sub Pop representative, who eventually offered to release their debut album.

Oh, Inverted World (Buy Album), their debut studio album, was released on June 19, 2001 to critical acclaim. Omnibus Records put out an initial run of vinyl distributed by Darla. Sub Pop Records reprinted the vinyl, but the Sub Pop logo only appears on later pressings. The album contains the songs "Caring Is Creepy" and "New Slang," both of which appeared in the 2004 film Garden State.


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