“Simple Song” Sounds Like A Hit To Me

by | Mar 26, 2012

Since moving to Portland, Oregon in 2008 I’ve been digging on emerging acts like Weinland, Blind Pilot and Blitzen Trapper. But some of top indie rocks acts in the world are also living and working in Puddletown, and their sizable ripples are being felt on coasts near and far.

Modest Mouse, The Shins, The Decemberists and Spoon are all tied to this two-rivers city in some way, and The Shins first new album in five years is on a lot of playlists right now, mine included.

The New York Times notes that with “Port of Morrow” James Mercer, 41, faces what could be his biggest challenge. “Since the Shins were last heard from he has dismissed the rest of the band and remade it as a semipermanent collective of well-traveled professionals, and also moved further away from the Shins’ scruffy origins with a tightly produced, eclectic record. Will his fans accept the changes?”

The touring version of the Shins includes the guitarist Jessica Dobson, who has played with Beck; the bassist Yuuki Matthews, of the band Crystal Skulls; Joe Plummer, the drummer in Modest Mouse; and Richard Swift, a songwriter and go-to indie producer.

The Times doesn’t mention anything about “Port of Morrow” reaching new fans. But I consider myself a new fan, even though I’ve been listening to “Chutes Too Marrow” for some time now.

Greg Kot of Chicago Tribune argues that the results are decidedly mixed:

Fans of the band’s relatively modest indie releases may find the production oddly sparkly, layered with keyboards, wordless harmonies, and exotic little noisemakers and ear-catching details. But Mercer’s gift for the insinuating melody remains acute, and his lyrics have never been more straight-forward.

I don’t feel that the results are mixed, but as I said, I am a relatively new fan, so I’m not carrying a cart full of indie rock baggage.

By the way, Port of Morrow, near Boardman, Oregon, contains all the industrial infrastructure you’ll need to grow your business.