STORY BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER
For 21st Century Media
It’s tough being in a musical partnership — just ask Simon & Garfunkel. Multiply that difficulty significantly when the duo is set firm within individual successes, as is the case with Broken Bells, who come to the Electric Factory Saturday, Sept. 27.
Frontman James Mercer is the leader of indie pop darlings The Shins while multi-instrumentalist Danger Mouse, aka Brian Burton, is one half of Gnarls Barkley, along with being the hottest producer of the last decade, most recently helming a handful of tracks on U2’s latest release.
So far so good though; this year saw the release of the second Broken Bells full length effort, “After Hours,” a solid effort that received starred reviews across the board. Songs like “Holding on for Life,” “Perfect World” and the mesmerizing title track find the two hitting their stride in a haze of synth-pop melodies that recall the best of the 80s keyboard driven acts, albeit with better hair.
“After the Disco” follows up the 2010 self-titled debut, which is on the brink of RIAA Gold certification after notching a release week Billboard Top 10 slot. Burton and Mercer’s first album was nominated for a Grammy award and ultimately helped solidify Burton’s most recent Producer of the Year win, one of his 17 nominations and five Grammy victories in seven years.
This year holds a special significance for Burton and the Danger Mouse moniker as he celebrates the 10th anniversary of his groundbreaking release, “The Grey Album.” Mixing together Jay-Z’s 2003 “The Black Album” with The Beatles’ “White Album” shook the music industry to its core, was responsible with the ensuing mashup craze and established Burton as the producer du jour.
Since 2004 and “The Grey Album,” a bevy of modern day musical titans have sought out the Danger Mouse treatment. Burton’s production work can be heard on such notable releases as Gorillaz’s “Demon Days,” Beck’s “Modern Guilt,” The Black Keys’ explosive single “Tighten Up” and massive “El Camino.”