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Every song on the 'Garden State' soundtrack, ranked

Zach Braff’s Garden State was—and continues to be—known as much for its soundtrack as for, well, everything else. The 13-song mix introduced The Shins and Frou Frou to a wider audience and gave well-established bands like Simon & Garfunkel and Coldplay a new home. And it gave thousands of Garden State fans something to pop into their CD player and keep there for days (or, you know, months) on end.

Braff’s latest film, Wish I Was Herealso has an impressive, already-released soundtrack. But in time for the film’s Friday release, here’s a look back at the soundtrack that started it all—and ranking all of its tracks, because not every song can be a life-changer.


The Shins' James Mercer tips for festival survival: Play loud, be more like Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell

In the midst of Chicago’s unrelenting heat, the Shins helped cool off the thousands gathered in Grant Park for Lollapalooza on Friday evening. Armed with a quiver full of beloved songs both old (the show-opening “Caring Is Creepy,” Manic Pixie Dream Girl anthem “New Slang”) and new (the chugging “Simple Song” and majestic “Port of Morrow”), frontman James Mercer led a series of singalongs that helped sweaty revelers forget about their sunburns and hunger.

This is Mercer’s second time playing Lolla, and he’s learned a lot about festival survival since his first appearance in 2007. “In this environment, you get less time, and you want to play more upbeat stuff,” he explained to EW backstage a few hours before his set. “There’s often something else happening in the distance. We played a festival in Ireland once, and in the middle of ‘New Slang,’ the Scissor Sisters kicked in across the field on this mega stage. It was a little distracting. It was hard to keep track of what I was supposed to sing.”

Luckily for Mercer, the Scissor Sisters were AWOL at Grant Park yesterday, though festival co-founder and spiritual leader Perry Farrell was very much on the scene. As the fest’s official power animal, part of Farrell’s job is to inspire, and he certainly had that effect on Mercer back in ’07.

“Meeting Perry Farrel was kind of cool,” Mercer said. “He’s such an icon, and I was such a fan of Jane’s Addiction. He’s a f—ing rock star, but he seemed to me to have a certain calm about him, and he was very polite.”

For Mercer though, there is one thing that Lollapalooza is missing: “We just played Fuji Rock in Japan, and they have the best food,” he explained. “I got these grilled skewers of pork with these slightly pickled cucumbers, and it blew my mind. I basically got back in line for another one as soon as I got my first.”  Take that, Chubby Weiners!

Complete Music Festival Coverage at
Lollapalooza playlist: From Passion Pit to The Shins and more — LISTEN
Lollapalooza 2012: Five questions going into the weekend

On the scene at Lollapalooza Friday: The Black Keys and Black Sabbath deal in different kinds of darkness

By Kyle Anderson & Nolan Feeney

On the opening day of Lollapalooza 2012 in Chicago, people could only talk about two things: The oppressive heat (which isn’t really news for anyone who has ever spent three days repeatedly crossing Grant Park in August), and whether or not Black Sabbath was going to make everybody sad.

Obviously, the idea of the legendary metal band playing a nearly two-hour set of heavy classics was titillating, and frontman Ozzy Osbourne remains one of the most unpredictable characters in rock. But health problems for both Osbourne and Tony Iommi have called into question whether or not this particular Sabbath reunion was a good idea, and suggested that the band might be better served staying at home (which is exactly what drummer Bill Ward ended up doing anyway).

By the time they left the stage on Friday night, they delivered no definitive answers. The set list was unimpeachable —  hitting on everything you could possibly want to hear from them, including “Iron Man,” “War Pigs,” “Sweet Leaf,” “N.I.B.,” and “Paranoid” (which they wisely saved for the encore). Ozzy still has the will of a manic frontman, but neither his body nor his voice seem to be able to match his intent, and he seemed vaguely off for the better part of the evening.

Iommi’s steady riffing carried the night, though the set ground to an unfortunate halt during an overlong drum solo (though honestly, there’s no such thing as an “appropriate length drum solo”) that saw a lot of people trying to beat the traffic home.

Still, for those who stuck around, the rest provided by the rhythmic interlude might have been just what the other members of the band needed, as the band’s finishing run (which included the awesome and deeply underrated Technical Ecstasy gem “Dirty Women”) was as strong as any modern metal act. Were they good? Sure. Should they keep going? The jury is still out.

On the other end of the park, the Black Keys were offering up no such existential quandaries. READ FULL STORY

Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich talks new season of live-music show 'From the Basement'; watch an exclusive clip of the Shins here

A few years ago, Grammy-winning record producer and unofficial sixth Radiohead member Nigel Godrich was lamenting the lack of the great music-based television shows like The Old Grey Whistle Test as well as great experiments like The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. So he did something about it and created From the Basement, a series with a simple premise: Great bands performing killer songs in a small room with no audience.

“I think what happened was MTV came along in the ’80s and destroyed the way that people film music on television,” Godrich told EW via phone from London. “The performance ended up in the edit, and it wasn’t very direct. It’s a selfish thing, really—as a music fan, I really wanted to see people performing on television, so we went ahead and did it. Musicians hate doing TV because it’s such a different world and a horrible environment for them, so wouldn’t it be cool for me as a music person to do a TV show? Then I could get something out of them that TV shows wouldn’t get.”

The series has mostly existed online and on U.K. television, but the third season—premiering this summer—will be featured the 3D network 3net. That means that not only will you be able to experience dynamic performances by the likes of the Shins, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Feist, and Foster the People, but you’ll also be able to watch them in 3D

“I was quite cynical about it when it was suggested to me,” Godrich admitted of the introduction of 3D. “I’m very careful about anything that seems like a gimmick, but the technology is so good and it looks so amazing. When you see a photograph of an Impressionist painting, it doesn’t really make sense until you go to France and stand in the museum and watch this thing vibrate in front of your face. It really is another level of intimacy, and it really translates in a really sophisticated way.”

Of course, those not equipped to view things in three dimensions won’t be left out in the cold, as From the Basement will be available on Crackle, which is available on a bunch of different smartphones as well as video game systems. That will let you catch stuff like the Shins performing “Bait and Switch,” which you can watch in the exclusive clip below.  READ FULL STORY

Neil Young, Red Hot Chili Peppers to headline Austin City Limits

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and Florence + the Machine are three of the biggest names slated to play the 2012 Austin City Limits Music Festival. The entire 130-act strong lineup was announced for the October event. Click below for the rest of the talent: READ FULL STORY

The Shins reveal secret to superior song-clapping: Watch the 'Funny or Die' video here

Since music was invented, people have been adding all sorts of crazy extracurricular instruments to songs. Some go for whistling, others opt for trash cans, and one guy even managed to invent a dinosaur, the “sexasaurus.”

Of course, one of music’s most classic ingredients is the old-fashioned handclap. But beware, striving artists: it’s trickier than you think.

Good thing you’ve got James Mercer of the Shins to show you how it’s done. In a new Funny or Die video, the indie frontman reveals the secret of how to get the best, album-ready sounds out of your hands: Clapping Butter.

That’s right, you’ve been doing it wrong this whole time! Take notes as you watch Mercer slather himself up in the video below:


Christina Hendricks stars in Broken Bells' new sci-fi video: Watch here! Plus, James Mercer talks next Shins album

Last month, EW gave you a sneak peek at Broken Bells‘ “The Ghost Inside” video, in which Mad Men star Christina Hendricks plays a gorgeous robot. Today the video is out, and it’s as fun as those still images suggested. Check it out after the jump to see the lengths Hendricks’ android will go to retire comfortably, and how the Broken Bells guys (producer Danger Mouse and Shins singer James Mercer) figure into her quest.

As you’ll see, “The Ghost Inside” includes more costumes and special effects than you’ll find in the entire Shins videography put together. “This is like our song showing up in a stretch Hummer,” Mercer told me a few weeks ago with a laugh. “It’s so glossy and amazing-looking that I’m almost like, ‘Oh my God, people are gonna think that…’ I dunno. It’s just so different from anything I’ve ever done. It’s, like, f—ing pro. And Christina Hendricks is in it! It’s sorta scary, but it’s cool.”

Watch the video after the jump (clip via Vulture) — and keep reading for Mercer’s thoughts on the future of the Shins. READ FULL STORY

PSA: The Shin is not the Shins

"At first listen," reads a press release which recently landed in my inbox, "The Shin may sound like your average rocking band from Georgia." Actually, at first glance, "The Shin" sounds like a solo project from James Mercer, lead singer of the Shins.

But wait! Turns out The Shin (no s) is in fact a longstanding band from the Eurasian nation of Georgia that’s about to kick off an American tour. It’s not their fault that their name sounds so much like that other moderately well-known act, either. Evidently "Shin" means "home" in the Georgian language, and they put out their first album way back in 1995, years before Mercer changed his indie-pop band’s name from Flake Music.

So just consider this your daily lesson of "Know your indie sensations from your traditional Georgian fusion troupes." A clip of The Shin’s "Chips on the Water" is below — no word on whether it’ll change your life, but nice stuff, if you like that sort of thing. For comparison, the Shins‘ "Australia" video is after the jump.


The Shins' new song: Bring on the next album already!

Theshins_l So much has been made recently of whether the Shins will break away from Sub Pop — the label that helped launch them into the hearts and iPods of Natalie Portman fans everywhere — that I thought it would be forever until we heard some new material. Turns out I was wrong, and for that we have Merge Records to thank. The Shins contributed a cover of "Plenty Is Never Enough" by Tenement Halls to a star-studded compilation celebrating the anniversary of the famed indie label (called 20 Years of Merge Records: THE COVERS!). The 20-track tribute also features contributions from indie giants likeRyan Adams, Death Cab For Cutie, Bright Eyes, and Okkervil River. Listen to a stream of the song (and the rest of the album) on Merge

"Plenty" is the first new song of theirs I’ve heard since the sugary-sweet "It’s Okay, Try Again," which they performed on Nickelodeon’s vaguely-scary-but-kind-of-awesome show Yo Gabba Gabba! And, true to form, the cover showcases James Mercer’s sprightly vocals and the band’s bouncy guitars andpercussion. In short, even though it’s cover, it sounds precisely how aShins song: carefree and fun, with a hint of melancholy. It’s been a full two years since the band’s third album, Wincing the Night Away (which gave us keepers like "Australia" and "Phantom Limb"), and, alas, it appears there’s a long way to go yet for that much-anticipated fourth record. Sub Pop says they are currently not recording, so this song will have to do, for now.

Check out the new tune here, then let us know what you think.

More on The Shins:
Natalie Portman’s new music mix for a cause
The Shins’ Wincing the Night Away gets a B+
The Shins’ Chutes Too Narrow gets a A-

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