Flake Music: ‘When You Land Here, It’s Time To Return’ Remaster

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Not only did Garden State establish first-time director Zach Braff as more than his Scrubs character, it also introduced the mainstream world to a staple of the modern indie-rock world: The Shins.

The film helped skyrocket the band to fame almost over night, after Natalie Portman’s character hands Braff’s a pair of headphones and proclaims, “You gotta hear this one song, it’ll change your life I swear” (referring to their mega-hit “New Slang”).

The official Garden State soundtrack later won a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album and the film quickly gained a cult following, along with its most featured artist.

Long before The Shins found fame, they were merely a side project of four guys that belonged to another band, named Flake Music. Drummer Jesse Sandoval, keyboardist Martin Crandall, bassist Neal Langford and well-known singer-songwriter/guitarist James Mercer comprised the group, based in Albuquerque.

In their seven-year span of existence between 1992 and 1999, Flake Music only managed to release one full-length album, “When You Land Here, It’s Time To Return”. That album, released by what seems to be a now-extinct Omnibus Records, floated around the Internet with little information behind it and three tracks listed as “untitled”.

The album was first reissued in 2002, and this week, SubPop has released a second, updated reissue that has been remixed and remastered. The reissue also includes new artwork from Seattle artist, Keith Negley.

The fresh rendition of this classic 1997 album is remixed by Kennie Takahashi (notably, a sound engineer that often works with Danger Mouse) and remastered by J.J. Golden.

It’s not hard to tell “When You Land Here, It’s Time To Return” is ancestor of The Shins; from their upbeat rhythms down to James Mercer’s distinct voice, Flake Music is the angsty teen preview of The Shins.

While the modern, classic sound of The Shins is weaved throughout each song on the album, it’s definitely reminiscent of the garage punk feel of the time. Think the heavier drums and guitar riffs of Brand New’s “Mixtape” but with Weezer’s carefree, bright sound.

Naturally, the album is most closely comparable to The Shins 2001 release, “Oh, Inverted World”. Mercer’s lyrical roots are exposed and they are just as lovely as his current work in The Shins and Broken Bells.

“When You Land Here, It’s Time To Return” has some very nice surprises though, including three songs that are strictly instrumental on the album, including the outro, “Vantage”. If you want to feel the true 90’s vibes, go for the distorted “On the Playground, in the Wind” or psychedelic “Faded Polaroids”.

Even though the album has a track named “The Shins”, Flake Music is definitely a separate entity. The album is now available on CD and for the first time in over 15 years, you can hear this one spinning on vinyl. Recommended for fans of The Shins and lovers of quality music.

4.5/5

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