Broken Bells

The Shins frontman James Mercer and super-producer Danger Mouse are the celestial rock duo Broken Bells. The pair joins Sound Opinions in Portland, Oregon for a special live performance and conversation.

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While Taylor Swift fans may think she made history way back in 1989 by simply being born, the charts will remember Swift for the year 2014, as it marks the first time in twelve years that an artist's album has sold more than one million copies in its debut week. This feat, achieved by Swift's fifth studio album 1989, is no small one given our age of streaming music services and record leaks. That's why the secret to Swift's physical album sales success might just be her recent decision to pull all her music off of streaming music supergiant Spotify. Swift now joins a growing chorus of musicians like Radiohead's Thom Yorke who reject Spotify's business model, one that only pays artists a fraction of a penny for each stream of their songs. Spotify, of course, defends its model, but Swift stands by her assertion that music is art, art is valuable and therefore it should be paid for. And yes, by art she means "Shake It Off."

On the opposite end of the commercial spectrum from superstar Taylor Swift is the self-described “Liberian/Nigerian/Scottish psychedelic hip-hop electro boy band,” Young Fathers. Despite the alternative hip-hop group's relative obscurity, its album, Dead, just won the UK's Mercury Prize, an annual honor given to the best British or Irish album of the year. The win was an upset for more buzzed about artists like FKA Twigs and Damon Albarn, and many criticize the award for favoring obscure bands that are never heard from again. To be fair, well-known and still active acts like PJ Harvey, Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys have taken the prize home in the past, but whether Young Fathers have staying power or not remains to be seen.




Broken Bells

James Mercer of The Shins and Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) formed a band called Broken Bells that combines Mercer's songwriting abilities with Burton's incredible production techniques. The duo has released two albums under that moniker and the project has two fans in Jim and Greg. The band met at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark have continued to work together on-and-off since. Brian talks about their songwriting process which essentially boils down to late night chats about everything under the sun, and then putting those ideas to music in the studio. James describes how Brian pushed him as a singer—making him do take after take until he got it right. Broken Bells' newest album As Greg notes, After the Disco is evocative of that 3 a.m. feeling when things“wear off.”The band joined Jim and Greg for a special performance at the historic Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, OR. The crowd was courtesy of our friends at opbmusic



“Silver Bullet”Jack Bruce,Golden Palominos

Cream bassist Jack Bruce recently passed away at age of 71, and as Jim explains, he played an important part in the '60s English music scene. Bruce had a long career as an underground musician playing jazz, rock and avant-garde music. To pay homage to him, Jim chose a song for the Desert Island Juxebox that was actually not from his time with Cream. Instead, he goes with "Silver Bullet" by the Golden Palominos. Jim had the pleasure of seeing the larger-than-live Bruce perform this track live, and he'll never forget it.

Featured Songs

  1. Taylor Swift, Shake It Off, 1989, Big Machine Records, 2014
  2. Young Fathers, Get Up, Dead, Anticon and Big Dada, 2014
  3. Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse, Insane Lullaby, Dark Night of the Soul, Capitol, 2010
  4. Danger Mouse, What More Can I Say, The Grey Album, N/A, 2004
  5. The Good, the Bad and the Queen, Herculean, The Good, the Bad and the Queen, Virgin, 2007
  6. The Shins, So Says, Chutes Too Narrow, Sub Pop, 2003
  7. Broken Bells, Medicine (Live in Portland on Sound Opinions), After the Disco, Columbia, 2014
  8. Broken Bells, The Remains of Rock & Roll, After the Disco, Columbia, 2014
  9. Broken Bells, A Perfect World, After the Disco, Columbia, 2014
  10. The Shins, New Slang, Oh, Inverted World, Sub Pop, 2001
  11. Broken Bells, The Angel and the Fool (Live in Portland on Sound Opinions), After the Disco, Columbia, 2014
  12. Broken Bells, Holding on for Life (Live in Portland on Sound Opinions), After the Disco, Columbia, 2014
  13. Broken Bells, Control (Live in Portland on Sound Opinions), After the Disco, Columbia, 2014
  14. Broken Bells, After the Disco, After the Disco, Columbia, 2014
  15. The Golden Palominos, Silver Bullet, Visions of Excess, Celluloid, 1985
  16. ABBA, Ring Ring, Ring Ring, Polar, 1973
  17. The Pixies, Where is My Mind, Surfer Rosa, 4AD, 1988
  18. Pink Floyd, The Trial, The Wall, Columbia, 1979
  19. Pink Floyd, The Thin Ice, The Wall, Columbia, 1979
  20. John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, (I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man, Primal Solos, Polygram, 1980

Footnotes Taylor Swift Taylor Swift Billboard Record No more Swift on Spotify Young Fathers Young Fathers win Mercury Prize 2014 Broken Bells

Roskilde Festival > Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall opbmusic Jack Bruce obituary Golden Palominos -“Silver Bullet” Additional Jack Bruce songs