Hear James Mercer's Cleaned-Up Flake Music Jam 'The Shins'

Shins frontman says with new mixes, his old band's music has finally been "fully realized"

James Merce's band before the Shins was called Flake Music, and they ironically played a song called "The Shins." Credit: Flake Music

Formed in 1992 when singer James Mercer was 22 years old, Flake Music toured with bands like Califone and Modest Mouse and eventually released a single LP, 1997's When You Land Here It's Time to Return. The year before, Mercer and Flake drummer Jesse Sandoval had formed a second group, the Shins, and soon this side project would take up nearly all of their time.

"When I started the Shins, I was consciously trying to do something different from Flake," Mercer told Alibi in 2001, explaining that the new group was less collaborative than the old one. "I was focusing on playing percussively on the guitar and I wanted it to sound really different."

When You Land originally came out on Omnibus Records, but at the time the album was neither mixed nor mastered. On November 24th, however, Sub Pop and Aural Apothecary are releasing it anew, and this time the sound is noticeably cleaner.

"So cool to hear this record now with a proper mix," Mercer says over e-mail. "We worked hard on these songs and finally we feel like they've been fully realized. Bask in the Nineties glow of our summers passed."