Clas­si­cal

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Heart­worms Vin­cent Plush

Mercer has been down a num­ber of musical paths since he first emerged back in Al­bu­querque in the band Flake Mu­sic in the early 90s. The Shins be­gan as an off­shoot of that band in 1996 and re­leased its first al­bum, Oh, In­verted World, in 2001. The lead sin­gle from that al­bum, New Slang, was a game-changer for Mercer and his col­leagues, not least when three years af­ter its re­lease it was used in the hit movie Gar­den State. That sud­denly brought the Shins’ brand of quirky pop to a larger au­di­ence and re­freshed sales of that de­but al­bum and its suc­ces­sor, 2003’s Chutes Too Nar­row.

In 2007 the band’s third al­bum Winc­ing the Night Away in­creased the stakes even more, be­com­ing their big­gest-sell­ing al­bum, reach­ing No 2 in the US charts and earn­ing the band a Grammy nom­i­na­tion for best al­ter­na­tive mu­sic al­bum. It fea­tures sin­gles re­mained fan favourites such as Phan­tom Limb and Turn on Me.

By then, how­ever, Mercer was be­gin­ning to feel the pres­sure of 10 years of al­most con­stant tour­ing and record­ing, along with a few per­son­nel changes in that time. In a sur­prise move, he parted ways with the other band mem­bers, guitarist Dave Her­nan­dez, drum­mer Jesse San­doval and multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist Marty Cran­dall.

“I am glad I did that,” he says. “In some ways it was good for them too. It was some­thing that for my men­tal health I had to do. The stress of be­ing ‘the guy’ gets too much. It was that and I needed some more part­ner­ship. Also, tran­si­tion­ing from the old band that we had been was hard. It was a drunken democ­racy. Switch­ing and chang­ing was dif­fi­cult for me to han­dle del­i­cately.”

Now, he says, “I have some that have Aus­tralia, won­der­ful Stravin­sky Bal­lets Syd­ney Sym­phony Or­ches­tra ABC Clas­sics It’s a brave or­ches­tra that dares to put out record­ings of the three big Stravin­sky “Rus­sian” bal­lets — The Fire­bird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. Hard to imag­ine other 20th-cen­tury works that have had more record­ings. Eight years sep­a­rate the record­ings of Fire­bird (Au­gust 2008) and the two other bal­lets (Au­gust 2016). Over that time, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the SSO and its chief con­duc­tor David Robert­son, ap­pointed in 2014, has blos­somed to the point where he can ca­jole sheer magic from them. The per­for­mances grow in nu­ance and sub­tlety, char­ac­terised by slight vari­a­tions in tem­pos and tex­ture, and some vir­tu­oso solo flour­ishes. The record­ings cap­ture the con­cert ex­pe­ri­ence vividly. Where bet­ter-known or­ches­tras have pro­duced record­ings that are flat and flashy steel, the SSO here is show­cased in high­def­i­ni­tion colour. Fire­bird emerges as pure sen­su­al­ity, Petrushka as carnival rib­aldry and Rite as the bizarre rit­ual of­ten glossed over as an ex­er­cise in craft, as or­ches­tras and mae­stros dis­play their rhyth­mi­cal mas­tery. Their soul and colour place these per­for­mances along­side any that have emerged in re­cent years. peo­ple that I’m work­ing with, but I’m still friends with those other guys. I had din­ner with Her­nan­dez in Seattle just re­cently.”

Away from mu­sic, Mercer has dab­bled in act­ing, most no­tably in the 2010 fea­ture film Some Days are Bet­ter than Oth­ers, but it’s not some­thing he has warmed to.

“The frus­tra­tion is that you don’t have any con­trol and it’s re­ally long hours,” he says. “Play­ing in a band is a re­ally good deal. And writ­ing songs you get to be the sculp­tor. As an ac­tor I don’t have the skill to pull off amaz­ing per­for­mances and en­joy the craft.”

He is look­ing for­ward to play­ing with his new band, which will in­clude a tour of Aus­tralia later in the year.

“And that’s how,” goes the last line of en­hall, “we get to where we are now”. March 10. is re­leased through Sony on Mild-

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.