Broken Bells is a collaboration between James Mercer of The Shins and Brian Burton, otherwise known as producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse. For this project Mercer handles vocals, guitars and bass while Burton plays organ, drums, piano, synths and bass. The pair play all of the instruments on the self-titled Broken Bells album, which will be released by Columbia Records on March 9. There's a smorgasbord of pre-order options at the link.
Here are a few words from their first-ever live performance a few nights ago at the Bootleg Theater in Echo Park:
"After a spirited set by the house DJ's, Broken Bells took the stage as a 6-piece band (two guitars, two keyboards, bass, drums). On the record -- much like with the Gnarls Barkley collabs with Cee-Lo -- Burton handled all the instrumentation as well as production, James Mercer wrote the songs and played guitar. Mercer's voice was strong and rose above Burton's shuffling timekeeping. Several songs had a lilting bass groove reminiscent of the Manchester sound of 20 years ago -- Stone Roses, Happy Mondays. It was also apparent that these musicians were influenced by the likes of Damon Albarn and Beck -- not necessarily a bad thing. Add four- and five-part harmonies and some ace songwriting by Mercer and the live experience had a wall of sound, Floydian feel, melodies grinding through spiral video projected on the stage."Broken Bells will play NPR Music’s SXSW showcase at Stubb's on Wednesday, March 17, along with Spoon, Sharon Jones and The Walkmen.