With their jangly and melodic pop the Shins helped bring the pop traditions of 1960s pop bands — groups like the Beatles, the Zombies, and the Beach Boys — to a new generation of music fans under the catchall music sobriquet of "indie rock."
The Shins formed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the late 1990s under the name Flake Music. The group — featuring singer-songwriter James Mercer, bassist Neal Langford, keyboardist Martin Crandall, and drummer Jesse Sandoval — released one album, When You Land Here, It's Time To Return (1997) before changing its name to the Shins and signing a deal with Sub Pop Records.
Released in 2001, the Shins' proper debut, Oh, Inverted World, was a critical success, with haunting pop numbers such as "New Slang" and "Caring is Creepy." The album not only caught the attention of McDonald's — which placed "New Slang" in a television spot, but it also helped re-establish the profile of Sub Pop, which had been without a marquee artist for much of the late 1990s.
After touring behind World, the band parted ways with Langford and brought in Dave Hernandez to work on Chutes Too Narrow (Number 86, 2003), a less sleepy-eyed and more bustling follow-up. The Shins' biggest breakthrough, however, came the next year, when two of the group's songs were included in the winsome Zach Braff vehicle Garden State. The film's soundtrack was certified platinum, though its success riled some Shins fans, some of whom felt that the band's appeal was partly due to its well-kept secrecy.
Three years after Garden State's name-drop, the Shins released Wincing the Night Away (2007), which debuted at Number Two on the Billboard sales chart, a first in Sub Pop history and received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album.
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