It would be nice to think that the Shins just exploded into the indie rock world back in 2001, arriving out of nowhere and inspiring immediate devotion from those who like their pop charged with smarts. Truth is, the roots of the band stretch back nearly five years earlier, when singer/lyricist James Mercer had the band Flake in New Mexico. Flake begat Flake Music. Flake Music did an album, toured and basically embodied the sound of an indie rock band struggling, but to their credit doing much more than that, by creating slighty spiky, melodic pop. The key factor in the story came when James Mercer decided he wanted to do his own project, his own songs, either for his own solo album or under the unlikely name of the Shins. He goes for the Shins. His compatriots in Flake Music heard the new songs, jumped ship and suddenly everyone is a Shin. The songs were recorded and ended up over at Sub Pop, and the next thing you know, the Shins are touring and eeking their way into the indie rock subconscious, helping Sub Pop sell more records than they have in years. As for the music: you can't hear "New Slang" and not think it's a good song. It's just impossible. The group's other songs walk that much-coveted line between familiarity and originality. There's a little bit of Kinks, a little bit of Beach Boys, some Echo & The Bunnymen, but it's truly nothing like any of those. It's book-smart pop that doesn't try to be too witty; it just wants to be part of the musical landscape for maybe a few minutes, maybe more. Through this, they've become romanticized and even imitated. A success story, to say the least, further cemented with a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album for 2007's Wincing The Night Away.