On this day I recalled a radio interview James Mercer once did, when asked what living in Albuquerque was like, he replied “It is a rough and hostile place to live”. On my last visit to the Dirt City, I was struck by how seedy and rundown most of the city looks. However not just the physical appearance has changed. Hollow eyed vagrants wearing hoodies and baggy pants (the uniform of the desperate) populate most corners, strip malls, fast food places and parking lots. Like hyenas they stand ready to pick off the weak, at least on this day they weren’t hunting in packs. The downturn in the economy has taken it’s toll on Albuquerque. Angry young men have fallen by the wayside, now they stand ready to wreck havoc. What were once “good neighborhoods” are now just part of this relentless predator’s hunting grounds. James Mercer had it right but he had no idea just how bad it would become. There are people in Albuquerque who are still angry that The Shins ditched the Dirt City for Portland. Can you really blame them for leaving?. Getting out of Albuquerque is the way for some really good bands and musicians to advance their careers. Just because a band leaves town does not mean that all ties with their home community are cut off. The Shins will be still be associated with Albuquerque and so will James Mercer, whether it suits him or not. The latest news from The Shins is not good new for Dirt City music fans. James Mercer has dropped both Marty Crandall and Jesse Sandoval from the band. This became apparent when they took the stage for a concert at Western Washington University. The newcomers are bass player Ron Lewis (Fruit Bats) and drummer Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse). Another new face, Eric Johnson (Fruit Bats) signed on just before the "Wincing The Night Away" tour. This leaves Mercer and Dave Hernandez (Scared of Chaka) as the only members with ties to Albuquerque. We should have seen this coming, it’s not the first time that James has moved on without his band mates. This follows the same pattern that led to The Shins being formed. Rumor has it that Marty’s recent legal troubles were the last straw. Crandall and his supermodel girlfriend Elyse Sewell were both arrested after a boozy domestic spat at a Sacramento motel. James later commented that Marty’s problems had nothing to do with his dismissal. As for Jesse, no reason has been given as to why he no longer fit into the group's plans. Marty and Jesse's abrupt dismissal from the band, is puzzling. They had been an important part of Flake, Flake Music and The Shins. Their musical skills and personalities helped make the band what it is today. James Mercer has an uncanny knack for making the right moves at the right time, so now we'll see how this plays out.