Flake Music: Wait who?


I am so stoked that James Mercer decided to re-issue the album, When You Land Here, It’s Time to Return. Back in 2009 James Mercer stated that he had intentions to re-releasing this album on his own label Aural Apothecary but now the wait is over and as Mr. Mercer promised the album was delivered. Now if you haven’t picked up a copy for yourself I highly recommend you do so as it is a must own album. This album was essentially the first ember to Mercer’s career with his first band Flake Music. Mercer, does he sound familiar? Well he should as he has been the front man for The Shins a band from Albuquerque, New Mexico for the past 15 plus years. The Shins are known to many as one of the first pioneer bands to bring the alternative/indie sound to commercial success. James Mercer and Jesse Sandoval first formed Flake Music back in 1992 and ended up releasing this album with two other band mates.

Let’s take a quick pause on the history lesson. This album is packed with a string of great tunes. Flake Music in my opinion does a great job in spiking our interest, oddly enough with a track named “The Shins.” With this track you find a hint of what was to come with The Shins. I imagine anyone who was rocking out to this album in the late 90’s were in heaven. I find it really hard to confuse Mercer’s work for anyone else. James Mercer has a unique high pitched tone which separated him at that time from the mumbles of Eddie Vedder. No disrespect to Vedder, but I think this is why Mercer has found the amount of success that he has had. Another reason for Mercer’s success is his capability of being able to craft something to his own liking and being able to sell it to the public. He also brings forth a creative force, his mind. Mercer decorates these songs making them both compact and highly detailed.

Although Flake Music does a great job with showing us similarities of its successor group The Shins, there are quite a few difference between the former and latter lead by Mercer. For example, “Spanway Hits” has a distinctive sound that I believe presents Flake Music as an original indie rock band. With a heavy guitar and drums this track is the epitome of what indie rock was and what it would become. “Spanway Hits” shows a more youthful reminiscence of James Mercer along with Jesse Sandoval.

This album is beautifully remastered as James Mercer brought in Kennie Takahashi who is best known as Danger Mouse’s producer. Mercer reached out to his collaborative partner Danger Mouse, who he has formed another band with, Broken Bells. Mercer asked Brian Burton for his opinion on a competent producer and in return Burton pointed him towards the genius that is Takahashi.

The earliest version of the Shins had basically the same lineup as Flake Music, the major difference was Mercer taking full command of the lyrics. It was not long before the Shins were revealed as more or less him. When You Land Here gives a proper introduction to what we would begin to know as The Shins. Take a bit of advice and get this album anyway you can. There are millions of aluminum cans out there get a move on folks you won’t regret it.

Mario is a dj listen to him on KSSU

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