I loved The Shins. They fulfilled my number one requirement for a band -- they sounded a lot like R.E.M. (See also The Feelies, Death Cab For Cutie, Guadalcanal Diary, 10,000 Maniacs, Counting Crows). Even if you're not that familiar with the band, you probably have heard at least one of their songs, New Slang, which was featured in the movie Garden State.
The lead singer of The Shins, James Mercer, recently collaborated with wunderkind music producer Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse to form the band Broken Bells. It's a great pairing of the romantic and melodic with the more experimental and electronic.
Here's their first single, The High Road, which came out late last year. It has the same moody, atmospheric sound of The Shins with the techno sound Danger Mouse is known for. Actually reminds me a little of the Flaming Lips.
Their new song is called Meyrin Fields. Here's a live version from a recent performance at the cozy Wiltern Theatre in lovely Los Angeles. While I'm not a huge fan of the Muse-ish high notes, I love the lush, moody sound.
My Chemical Romance has a new album coming out next month, Danger Days. The first video they released is for the song Na Na Na. I tend to run hot and cold on this band. I loved their second album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge but was lukewarm on the follow-up The Black Parade. Some would say I'm missing the narrative power of the band's work to date, and that may be true. But I like this song whether or not I understand where it fits in their elaborate storyline.
Kings of Leon have become the new banner-holders for rock, the next new thing to save the genre from extinction. We could hang our hopes on a worse bunch of guys. I loved their last album and, thanks to their free streaming of their new one, Come Around Sundown, I think they have another great collection of songs for us. While there may not be the huge Sex on Fire hit, the next album is very strong. Here's the video of their performing the song Radioactive on the Letterman show.
Finally, the Smashing Pumpkins have some new music out. Jesus Needs A Hit is marginally catchy, a pretty lightweight pop song, nothing to get that excited about. But I like this song, The Fellowship, which was featured on theVampire Diaries soundtrack. The Fellowship is a very traditional Pumpkins song, which I mean in the best way possible. It has a great melody, very catchy, and Billy Corgan is in remarkably good voice.