Broken Bells’ After the Disco Debuts

By on February 16, 2014

Broken Bells new album, After the Disco, has debuted on the Billboard 200 chart at number 5 in the U.S. and number 3 in Canada. This just shortly after securing the #1 spot on iTunes’s Top Albums chart on the day of After the Disco‘s release.

After the Disco, is the sophomore follow up to 2010’s self-titled Broken Bells and has already won over critics. The New York Times said, “They don’t flaunt their cleverness; they let a listener discover it after the songs sink in.”  USA Today gave the album three and a half out of four stars and said that the band, “raise their game on this sophomore outing by simply delivering fatter hooks, juicier melodies, dreamier vocals and more of the dark shimmer that enveloped the duo’s 2010 debut.”

The album was released stateside by Columbia Records on February 4.  It was recorded from October 2012 to November 2013 at three different studio in and outside of Los Angeles with backing from a four person choir and the seventeen-piece Angel City String Orchestra.    

After the Disco’s first single, “Holding on for Life”, was released in November of 2013.  “Holding on for Life” is exemplary of the 70’s dance and futuristic electronic influences that come together on all of After the Disco. The song has garnered play on alternative radio and reach number 16 on the U.S. alternative charts. The sci-fi inspired music video starring actress Kate Mara can be seen here.

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhBewKu80Mg

Broken Bells formed in 2009 as the seemingly unlikely duo of Brian Burton and James Mercer. They write music and lyrics together but Mercer is the solo vocalist while Burton does all the production work. The two come from different genres but have both spent their careers experimenting with underground movements and heavily artistic sounds that would later become more mainstream.

Burton, better known by his stage name Danger Mouse, is a prolific full time producer and part time musician. He first garnered attention when he mashed together the vocals of Jay-Z’s The Black Album with the instrumentals from The Beatles’ White Album for his own The Grey Album. The album received critical praise but became the center of controversy when The Beatles’ copyright holder, EMI attempted to stop production and distribution.

After that Burton produced albums for artists such as The Gorillaz, Beck, The Black Keys, Norah Jones and Portugal, the Man. He is also producing the much anticipated new U2 album. Bono recently complemented Burton and Broken Bells in an interview with Rolling Stone when he said ”We have Danger Mouse working with us. He’s a great soul and beautiful dude and the [Broken Bells] album is pretty amazing. [It’s got] extraordinary, melancholy melodies.”

As a performer, Burton is best known for being one half Gnarls Barkley. The alt hip-hop/funk duo scored a top ten hit in 2006 with their single “Crazy” while introducing CeeLo Green to pop culture long before his hit single “Forget You” or the The Voice.

Broken Bells © James Minchin

Brian Burton and James Mercer of Broken Bells
© James Minchin

On the other side of the musical spectrum, and the west coast, is Burton’s partner in crime, James Mercer. While Burton was making a name for himself in Los Angeles by working with a multitude of artists Mercer spent roughly the last decade and a half as the lead singer and only songwriter of just one band– Portland’s indie darlings, The Shins.

The group and their 2001 debut album, Oh, Inverted World are often credited with helping to bring indie rock above ground in the early 00’s. Especially after their music was  featured in the movie, Garden State. In one of the film’s most well-known scenes Natalie Portman tells Zach Braff that he must listen to The Shins’ “New Slang” because “it’ll change your life”.

Twelve years later the movie’s sentiment of Mercer as a unique talent remains popular in media. In their review of After the Disco, Consequence of Sound praised him and referenced the scene saying that “Good songs…hold up. They sounded like they meant something to James Mercer, the band’s songwriter, and as a result became songs that could change your life.”

Broken Bells have already announced spring and summer tour dates in support of After the Disco for the U.S. and Europe. Special festival appearances are set to include southern California’s Coachella, New York’s Governors Ball and Sasquatch! in Washington state. A full schedule is available below.

Shows in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Minneapolis, Washington D.C. and Toronto have all sold out in advance. Tickets for U.S. shows through the end of April are now available for purchase on Broken Bell’s website or through Ticketmaster. For more updates follow the band on Facebook or twitter.

BROKEN BELLS 2014 TOUR

02/28/14 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue (SOLD OUT)  

03/01/14 – Chicago, IL – The Vic Theatre (SOLD OUT)  

03/03/14 – Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall (SOLD OUT)  

03/04/14 – Montreal, QC – Metropolis  

03/05/14 – Boston, MA – House of Blues (SOLD OUT)  

03/07/14 – New York, NY – Webster Hall (SOLD OUT)  

03/08/14 – Philadelphia, PA – The Trocadero Theatre (SOLD OUT)  

03/09/14 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club (SOLD OUT)  

03/11/14 – Atlanta, GA – Tabernacle  

03/12/14 – New Orleans, LA – Civic Theatre  

03/24/14 – London, UK – Shepherds Bush Empire  

03/27/14 – Paris, France – La Cigale  

03/29/14 – Zurich, Switzerland – m4music Festival  

03/30/14 – Berlin, Germany – Postbahnhof  

03/31/14 – Brussels, Belgium – AB Flex  

04/01/14 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Melkweg The Max  

04/10/14 – Tempe, AZ – The Marquee  

04/11/14 – Indio, CA – Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival  

04/13/14 – Tucson, AZ – Rialto Theatre  

04/16/14 – San Diego, CA – Humphrey’s  

04/18/14 – Indio, CA – Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival  

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