Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

The Shins 

With the Busy Signals. Saturday, August 25, at the Grog Shop.

Singer-guitarist James Mercer's band, Flake, had been a mainstay of the Albuquerque scene for five years when he began to consider a more controlled and pop-driven alternative. Mercer titled the first song he wrote with this new pop mindset "The Shins," and he began to envision a band by the same name that would feature material like that of the Beatles and the Kinks. Soon after the Shins' inception in 1997, Modest Mouse invited Flake to open for it on a brief tour. Mercer and crew came out and did three songs as Flake, then three songs as Somersault (keyboardist Marty Crandall's side band), and then three songs as the Shins. The Shins were the band that stuck, and within a couple of years, most of Flake had moved on, leaving Mercer with Crandall, bassist Neal Langford, and drummer Jesse Sandoval. Through some home demos Mercer had made available at shows, the Shins came to the attention of Sub Pop Records, which first offered the band a shot at a Singles Club 7-inch release. That, in turn, led to the band's first full-length, Oh, Inverted World, which came out earlier this year. The album is a marvel of baroque yet intriguingly simple pop pleasures and lo-fi studio intricacy. With the kind of verve that suggests the Move as well as the '90s energy of Supergrass and the brains of Guided by Voices, Mercer and the Shins have emerged with one of the best albums of the summer.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Speaking of Previews

Latest in Livewire

More by Brian Baker

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 23, 2020

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Open Turntable Tuesday @ The Winchester

    • Tuesdays

© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation