Broken Bells Aim High

The Shins' Frontman and Danger Mouse Team Up in New Track "Vaporize"

One of the more talked-about musical pairing of recent times is Broken Bells, the unlikely joint project of Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) and James Mercer, leader of melodic indie rockers The Shins. Burton made his name with The Grey Album, a mash-up of classic albums by The Beatles and Jay-Z, going on to form Gnarls Barkley and produce records for Gorillaz, Beck and Sparklehorse, among others. Portland-based Mercer, meanwhile, is a king in indie circles, his band famed for its lyrically sensitive, musically complex, overwhelmingly infectious trio of critically acclaimed albums, culminating in 2007’s Grammy Award-nominated Wincing the Night Away. Not surprisingly a little serendipity was needed, and indeed came when the duo—both often seen as press-shy and earnest about the mastery of their craft—met accidentally at the Roskilde Festival in 2004. In 2008 they embarked upon a series of clandestine recording sessions in Burton’s Los Angeles studio that resulted in a hook-laden, distinct collision of gospel, funk, indie and soul. Early this year, filmmaker Matt Amato (who has previously directed influential videos for Beach House, The Dodos and Bon Iver) followed Broken Bells into the iconic LA recording studio The Boat to quietly observe their alchemy at work. NOWNESS offers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the emergence of “Vaporize,” a track off their album The High Road the video for which was executive produced by Sara Cline.

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