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Know Your Onion - EP

The Shins

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Album Review

The Shins 2001's debut, Oh, Inverted World, made a lot of best-of lists by demanding fans' ears, whose reaction to the tiresome glut of indie rock was to grow even more discerning. Separating the wheat from the endless fields of chaff is more and more difficult, but always rewarding when the actual talent presents itself to you, as this LP does right away. And it sure makes it easier when a respected label such as Sub Pop gets back on the supreme melodic bent it was on when they ruled with Sebadoh, Eric Matthews, Jeremy Enigk, and others, just a few years prior. And having digested the many splendid pleasures Oh, Inverted World offers, glomming this four-song EP is a nice stopgap while waiting for more. Its familiar "Know Your Onion" and three B-sides aren't mere collector's fodder. Recorded live at Seattle's Graceland, October 26, 2001, "My Seventh Rib" must have been written too late for the LP sessions, as this insistent, 16th-note- fest reveals the band's forte: it's filled with non-stop energy, deft dynamics, and James Mercer's typically singsong tune that grabs you like an NHL defenseman if you get near the puck. The LP's "New Slang" sounds more plaintive and Kinks-like, and another new tune, "Sphagnum Esplanade," closes matters on a minimal, light note. We want more Shins and we want it now! This just whets the appetite.

Biography

Formed: 1997 in Albuquerque, NM

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A classic guitar pop group almost nine years in the making, Albuquerque, New Mexico's the Shins began in 1997 as the side project of singer/songwriter and guitarist James Mercer's primary band, Flake. Mercer formed Flake in 1992 with drummer Jesse Sandoval, keyboardist Marty Crandall, and bassist Neal Langford; they eventually changed their name to Flake Music, releasing several singles,...
Full bio