A classic guitar pop group almost nine years in the making, Albuquerque, New Mexico’s the Shins began in 1997 as the side project of singer/songwriter and guitarist James Mercer’s primary band, Flake. Mercer formed Flake in 1992 with drummer Jesse Sandoval, keyboardist Marty Crandall, and bassist Neal Langford; they eventually changed their name to Flake Music, releasing several singles, a well-received album, and touring with friends like Modest Mouse and Califone.
Soon after the release of When You Land Here, Mercer and Sandoval formed the Shins as a change of pace, playing as a duo with Cibo Matto and the American Analog Set. With Mercer as the Shins’ primary songwriter, the group developed an uniquely focused, crafted sound. By 1999, Flake Music essentially disbanded and Langford also joined the Shins. With a rag-tag lineup of musicians from several other bands, the Shins released two 7″s singles and a full length album and then embarked on a tour with Modest Mouse. Sub Pop’s Jonathan Poneman caught the San Francisco date of the tour and asked the Shins to contribute a single to the label’s Single of the Month Club, which eventually became an offer to release their 2001 single “New Slang” and their debut album, Oh, Inverted World. This became the song that, thanks to Garden State, changed their lives. Later, the album Oh, Inverted World would become one of the definitive indie rock albums of the early 2000s and the band as one of the style’s definitive artists.