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Broken Bells is an alternative rock duo from Los Angeles, California, US that consists of the indie rock god of The Shins, James Mercer, and the mastermind producer, Danger Mouse. Their music is an eclectic amalgamation of sounds that draws inspiration from space rock to psychedelic music.
Although James Mercer and Danger Mouse expressed interest in working together when they met at a festival in 2004, they didn’t get together and start recording material as a group until 2008. In 2009 the duo publicly announced the news about the formation of their new band, Broken Bells. Before Broken Bells released any of their own material James Mercer collaborated on the song “Insane Lullaby” with Danger Mouse on his and Mark Linkous’ album “Dark Night of the Soul”. This song is often performed at Broken Bells’ concerts.
Before Broken Bells each member of the band had a thriving career of his own. James Mercer was in the critically lauded and Grammy nominated indie rock band, The Shins, who gained mainstream attention for their song “New Slang”, which was featured in the “Garden State” soundtrack. Danger Mouse was well recognized for his work in the band, Gnarls Barkley, which had the wildly successful song “Crazy” as well as consisted of CeeLo Green in the band. Danger Mouse is perhaps best known for his production work that has had him working with notable artists like The Black Keys, Gorillaz, Beck, and Norah Jones.
In 2010 Broken Bells released their debut self-titled album to great critical and commercial success. The album reached No. 7 on the US Billboard 200 charts and has sold over 400,000 copies. The album’s single “The High Road” also received extensive play time over alternative radio stations. Critics ended up praising the album and it was even nominated for a Grammy award for Best Alternative Music Album. The album showed the duo using catchy hooks and vocal harmonies to create a strong melodic sense to the album, but the use of electronic synthesizers and sound effects on the album gave their sound an experimental side as well.
After their debut album the band went on their first tour selling out multiple tour dates. In 2011 Broken Bells released an EP titled “Meyrin Fields”, which featured unreleased tracks from their debut album.
The year 2013 seemed like the year that disco was finally coming back. Daft Punk released their highly disco inspired album “Random Access Memories” and Broken Bells would release their second studio album, “After the Disco”. The album consisted of incredibly up-tempo beats, high falsetto vocals that resembled the Bee Gees, and was even recorded using a seventeen-piece string orchestra to get that classic disco feel. Critics responded favorably to the album with most critics commenting on the infectiously catchy hooks and melodies the music presented. The album was also a commercial success going on to reach the No. 5 slot on the Billboard Top 200 chart. The album consisted of several singles including “ Perfect World”, “After the Disco”, and “Holding On for Life”.
After the release of “After the Disco” Broken Bells would tour for the album with numerous sold out dates as well as some stops at festivals. They have also played late night television shows such as “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” where they played the song “Holding on for Life”. Already having released multiple studio albums, Broken Bells have proven themselves to be a well-respected band in their own right and not just some one time experimental project.