The Shins – Oh, Inverted World

2001 was an extremely confusing, morose period for myself and most of America.  I would soon be graduating from the University of South Carolina in December.  I had zero plan or clue what my next move would be.  I also was in a very serious relationship with someone who still had a remaining year of school, and I felt a lot of pressure to make a committed move with her as well.  Making these life or professional decisions at that age is pretty ridiculous in hindsight.  However, this cloud would further darken for all of us in America that September with the terrorist attacks of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center, a truly unprecedented event on American soil.  My ever prideful ego could never share these feelings of desolation as that would be an outward act of weakness which I was conditioned against.  However, 2001 provided some incredible albums that would match and comfort my feelings of despondence.

In the center of 5 Points in Columbia, SC resides a wonderful fossil commonly referred to as an independent record store.  Papa Jazz Record Shoppe is where I’d go for all my CDs in college.  This is where I first started scratching the record itch. The staff was incredible despite how this labor force seems to be depicted in films.  They took care of their normal buyers and steered me in newer, often right direction based on previous purchases.  I was recommended this debut album from The Shins when it was released because I was a massive Travis fan, a rarity in small town South Carolina.  Little did I know at the time, but Joe, as always, was on the same path with Travis and The Shins but in Dallas.  We would both quickly become obsessed with this record and James Mercer’s The Shins.

While I haven’t gotten there just yet, I am a Brit Pop fanatic.  Mercer formed The Shins in Albuquerque, however, he had gone to school in England where he was taken with the britpop sound and some of the more darker, emo leaning sounds of The Cure, The Smiths and Echo among others.  Marrying that inspiration even further back with a 60’s pop vibe created 2000’s indie magic.  “Caring is Creepy” is the perfect intro song to the band. “New Slang” would launch the band into popular culture via the movie which matched my 2001 demeanor, Jersey State. If there was ever a song that could carry a movie, “New Slang” is it.  They’re not all melancholy mood sucks but do not visit the album for a joyride!

It’s difficult to think we will ever get out of the ruts we find ourselves in, but I promise you will.  Know your onion.  There are so many layers to who you are.  Sometimes we have to peel one back and take a look within or even shed a layer to let a newer version of ourselves shine.  There is the present, the past and the pending…and the pending will often be so much better than the fleeting, perhaps confusing present.  It will all work out.

Favorite Tracks: “Caring is Creepy” “Know Your Onion!” “New Slang” “Girl Inform Me” “Girl On The Wing” “The Past and The Pending”

Pressing: Sub Pop – SP 550. Original. 2001.