Broken Bells = The Shins’ James Mercer + Danger Mouse

In case you haven’t heard about it yet, Broken Bells is the new collaborative group between The Shins frontman James Mercer and multi producer Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse. Broken Bells will be releasing their debut self titled album on March 9, 2010 via Columbia Records. However, if you look in the right places you can already find the album on the infamous world wide web (but I didn’t tell you that).

In the relatively short lifespan of his regular band The Shins, Mercer has already crafted a few of the most successful indie albums in the past decade with Oh Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow (not to say that Wincing the Night Away was bad by any means). And while James and the Shins gang were enjoying their Garden State fueled commercial bump, Danger Mouse was getting his big break with his internet sensation Jay-Z/Beatles mash-up The Grey Album, only later to ride his success into producing the likes of notable acts such as Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz, Dangerdoom, Beck, The Rapture, and The Black Keys.

Given the talent and accomplishments of both of these musicians it is hard not to have lofty expectations (especially after hearing that they played and recorded nearly every instrument on the record); nonetheless, you must remember that each has built their name on their own unique brand of sound and trying to fuse the two can be a little like a tricky experiment. I think most would blindly (and deafly) agree that Broken Bells is not going to fail in the way some other big name collaborations have in the past; however, whether the combined duo exceeds the popularity of either artist’s respective music is another thing entirely. But if you ask me, I’d say it’s a pretty solid effort that’s worth investigating for yourself.

In related news, Broken Bells just played their first live show ever (in Los Angeles at The Bootleg Theater) and closed out their set with a cover of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” (which was recorded on video by a lucky concertgoer). Unfortunately, the video was removed within hours “due to a copyright claim” which is quite unfortunate and lame. Especially because I was really looking forward to seeing that.

For now, you’ll have to make due with two new songs (“The High Road” and “Vaporize”) and a two part interview (courtesy of NME) explaining how Mercer and Burton met and came to work together. Oh, and they mentioned that they already have plans for a second album. Interesting.

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