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Broken Bells: A 'Disco'-Tinged Musical Partnership

Monday, January 20, 2014

Broken Bells performs in the Soundcheck studio. Broken Bells performs in the Soundcheck studio. (Michael Katzif / WNYC)

When people think about the music of Broken Bells -- the project of The Shins' James Mercer and producer and multi-instrumentalist Brian Burton (a.k.a. Danger Mouse) -- it's easy to imagine Mercer writing the songs and Burton coming in to "make them weird." But really, Broken Bells is a collaboration in the truest sense. The duo writes everything together -- and not just the music, but the words, and sometimes single lyric lines -- to the point where even they have said they have a hard time discerning where one's contributions to a song end and the other's begins.

If Broken Bells' fantastic self-titled debut was all about establishing this musical partnership and a core sound -- a fusion of psychedelic indie rock, lush soundscapes, and futurist electronic soul -- then the band's upcoming follow-up, After The Disco (out Jan. 28), pushes that relationship further, finding new musical ground and influences in the process.

Judging by the first single, "Holding On For Life," Mercer and Burton have evolved with a lovely and ominous pop sheen -- a mix of synth pop, '80s film soundtracks, and, as the album's title references, perhaps a little touch of Bee Gees-inspired falsetto. Along the way, Mercer and Burton lyrically delve equally into grand ideas, and darker, more personal territory. 

 

For more photos, visit Soundcheck's Tumblr page.

Set List:

  • "Holding On For Life"
  • "October"

 

Comments [4]

Melodie from New York

Love Broken Bells! Can't wait to hear the rest of the album on Feb 4th!!

Jan. 23 2014 06:20 PM
Derek

Just kidding, I just found WNYC's YouTube channel. I'm guessing (hoping) this just hasn't gotten uploaded, yet.

Jan. 21 2014 09:50 AM
Derek

I would love to see the songs that are performed specifically for Soundcheck uploaded to YouTube or something. I was trying to share the acoustic version of "Holding On For Life" that Broken Bells performed, but I can only seem to share the entire podcast.

Jan. 21 2014 09:41 AM
Monty from california

"Thanks for playing almost all of the the instruments" haha brian burton practically can play all of the instruments in existence

Jan. 20 2014 01:05 PM

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