Monday, Jan. 7, 2008

Ugly Shins News

By Evan Rytlewski
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The weekend brought ugly news from the Shins camp: Keyboardist Marty Crandall was arrested on domestic violence charges. The Modern Age has all of the sordid details, including police reports and a photo of the bruises Crandall allegedly inflicted on his ex-girlfriend. Crandall's bail was set at $25,000, and as of last night he was still in jail.

The story has had considerable legs in the blogosphere, not only because Crandall's ex is a sympathetic, blogging semi-celebrity, Elyse Sewell, a former "America's Next Top Model�" contestant, but because the allegations are so unexpected. We expect this kind of violence from hotel trashing hair-rockers, but not from the goofy, childlike keyboardist of a sensitive, presumably harmless indie-pop band.

Needless to say, this is a PR nightmare for The Shins. Although Crandall's artistic contributions to the band are minor, he's served as the public face of The Shins, filling in for perpetually shy frontman James Mercer. In concert, it's Crandall, not Mercer, who handles most of the between-song banter and jokes around with the audience. Even if Crandall escapes these abuse charges—which seems unlikely—he won't seem nearly as funny or likeable anymore.

For the band, it's a lose-lose situation. Will they fire Crandall, denunciating a longtime friend before he's found guilty, or will they stand by him, corroding their bankable reputation as indie-rock's nice guys?

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