The Shins' music frequently gets described with words like "enigmatic," "opaque" and "oblique." But leader and songwriter James Mercer doesn't understand why. "Oblique. What is that? Like, a triangle?" he asked us in an interview before his headlining gig at the Google Play/YouTube Presents shindig during the SXSW Music Festival. He insisted his melodies feel natural to him, his lyrics are easily interpreted metaphors and his newest album is even more straightforward than usual—then he proceeded to prove his point by leading a capacity crowd in a series of hand-clapping, head-swaying sing-alongs.
Well, okay, maybe the crowd didn't exactly sing along, let alone mouth the words, 'cause really, his lyrics can be kind of impenetrable. But that audience did go "Woo!" in all the right places as the sun set dramatically behind the state capitol building in Austin. And you can relive the experience yourself with this sampling of tracks from the set on Google Play, which we've rounded out with some other choice tunes from the new album and Mercer's other project, Broken Bells. Grab the free track, "The Rifle's Spiral (Live From The Lot)," below to whet your appetite. – Tim Quirk, Google Play
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