James Mercer: Light-rock dictator

Posted May 7th, 2009 by Eric Greenwood · No Comments

News of James Mercer’s unceremonious decision to change the line-up of The Shins hit the blogs yesterday, thanks to Pitchfork’s interview piece. It seems so odd to me that not a single reaction focused on how obnoxious it is to change the line-up of a band three albums into its successful tenure. It drives me crazy when bands pull this type of shenanigans. I’m of the mind that, if one member leaves, it’s no longer the same band. You either change the name or break up. I realize not everyone shares my viewpoint and that there are plenty of exceptions to that way of thinking that have worked out historically. But does anyone think The Who is the same without Keith Moon and John Entwistle? Hyperbolic analogy? Sure. But the principle remains the same. And, still, the fact that Mercer just made a sweeping decision to replace the entire rhythm section of The Shins because he had some fancy new ideas about the direction of the new album blows my mind. Maybe I’m old fashioned in thinking that a band sounds the way it does because of the chemistry of its members. Ergo, if you remove an entire rhythm section, your band will not sound the same. I, for one, will approach anything by this new incarnation of “The Shins” with more than a little skepticism.

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