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Music to Your Ears
By Laura Marrich
The Shins are Bigger than Jesus—Yup, it's official. As of this writing, The Shins' brand-new album, Wincing The Night Away, is the second highest selling album on Amazon.com, beating out The Beatles' Love (No. 8) and Madonna's Confessions Tour DVD and CD set (No. 6), for the love of all that's holy. So technically, they're bigger than the-band-that's-bigger-than-Jesus and Madonna. That's an astounding number of CD players to occupy. And with big-name recognition for what once was a small-town (that would be Albuquerque) band, comes the need for a Shins FAQ. Take note, members of the foreign press.
"It looks like The Shins have a new member ... or, no?"
Yes. The new member is Eric Johnson, multi-instrumentalist and principal member of Chicago's Fruit Bats. The choice seemed a bit out of left field to me until I inspected a friend's concert poster (by frequent Alibi cover artist Delanorock) from The Shins' first headlining tour in the spring of 2002. They hit 10 dates around the Western United States with The Busy Signals (also from Chicago) and, at the very bottom of the bill, bingo. Fruit Bats.
So this is a relationship five years in the making, not the apparent New Year's surprise it's cropped up to be. (Somewhat prophetically, the very first show of the tour wasn't in Albuquerque at all, but in Portland, Ore., where we all know they ended up moving to a few years ago.) Eric will join in the instrument-juggling with Marty and Dave (keyboard, guitars and bass), but it's speculated that he'll be bringing his considerable songwriting prowess to the table as well.
But wait! I can hear you grumbling from the other side of this piece of paper.
"Why have The Shins forsaken New Mexico? Why won't they play here, their ancestral home? Wayynnnhhh!"
Take a moment to uncrumple your panties, princess. The last four years have not been filled with idle crumpet-munching and guitar-shaped swimming pools for our boys. They've been filled with hard, nonstop work. (Exhibit A: two albums, two EPs, guest songs on other artists' albums, televised performances and revolving engagements at music festivals in every corner of the world.) They've barely been able to squeeze in Christmas Eve with the folks, much less clear out their schedules to play Spring Crawl. It's not personal. Try to remain cheerful.
That aside, the word is that The Shins will be returning to New Mexico, and soon. You can expect a date sometime during the second phase of their tour—in late March, or maybe April. Nothing is official at this point, however.
"I can't wait that long! Shins now! Nooooooowwwwww!"
Then you must go up to Denver and see them play the Fillmore Auditorium on Thursday, Feb. 15, when Albuquerque dreampops The Giranimals (featuring a very pregnant Connie on guitar and lead vocals) open for them. Take a long weekend and go support your Albuquerque boys and girls. So says I.
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