Song of the Day: Flake Music - Spanway Hits

Song of the Day
12/29/2014
Jacob Webb

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Spanway Hits” by Flake Music from the 2014 reissue of the 1997 album When You Land Here, It's Time To Return on Sub Pop.

Flake Music - Spanway Hits (MP3)

Formed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Flake Music served as the initial iteration of the Shins and singer James Mercer's initial recorded output. Mercer, drummer Jesse Sandoval, keyboardist Marty Crandall, and bassist Neal Langford formed Flake (later adding the "Music" to their name to distinguish themselves from another local act) in 1992, writing music and recording it in Crandall's stepfather's home studio across five years, culminating in 1997's When You Land Here, It's Time To Return. Unlike The Shins, the band's de facto leader was Langford, who booked the band's lone tour, including a show with Modest Mouse that would start a long-running relationship between the two bands. Seeking a different direction and taking the name of one of the tracks on When You Land...), Mercer began recording his own songs (with assistance from Crandall) under the moniker "The Shins", the other two members of Flake Music would eventually join in, and the rest is indie rock history. Crafted in a democratic, loose nature that stands apart from Mercer's later work, When You Land... contains some of his musical hallmarks (percussive guitar, a knack for lyric-heavy and melodic performances) while retaining a distinct lack of finesse that captures the spirit of four twentysomethings messing around. The album's opening track, "Spanway Hits", checks all of those boxes, blasting through them at a burning pace. Mercer's yelping vocals lean in a punk direction that he's never really revisited as his bandmates bash out a pop-influenced garage blast that wouldn't have sounded out of place on college radio in 1997. As a retrospective piece, "Spanway Hits" is an interesting snapshot of the songwriter who would later craft "New Slang", "Caring is Creepy", and so many other indie rock classics, but more than that, it's a fun, fiery rock tune that stands out on its own merits.

Flake Music have never expressed plans to reunite under that moniker, but James Mercer remains active as The Shins. Any further Shins activity will be posted over at their website and Facebook. Below, watch Mercer play an acoustic session of Shins songs live on KEXP in 2012.

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