Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

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Broken Bells unveils album in Los Angeles

February 22, 2010 | 11:02 am

Broken Bells, the hotly anticipated new project between Danger Mouse and the Shins' James Mercer,  had a coming-out-party Friday night, performing at the intimate Bootleg Theater for industry pals and those lucky enough to score some of the tickets that went on sale Friday morning. With a capacity of about 200, tickets didn't last long, and Pop & Hiss was forced to head home to watch some Olympic ice dancing instead.*

Nevertheless, plenty of amateur videographers were in attendance, and YouTube continues to help bring some context to rock 'n' roll myth-making. Above, Mercer and Danger Mouse, performing as part of what we're told was a six-piece band, dig into lead-off track "The High Road," from the act's upcoming March 9 release of its self-titled effort. 

With Mercer tapping his falsetto, and the slow, trippy introduction of background harmonies, Broken Bells manages to sound familiar yet contemporary, like the uncovering of a vintage album given some modern electronic flourishes. Or, to use a musical reference point, a more soulful take on the folksy-electro sound used to great effect by the Beta Band

Broken Bells, which will appear at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, pulled out some rock-crit-approved covers, including the Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" and Tommy James and the Shondells' "Crimson & Clover." The former was uncovered by Consequence of Sound, and is showcased after the jump.

-- Todd Martens

* Speaking for only this Pop & Hiss contributor.