Flat Mary Road | photo by Dan Papa with illustrations by Steve Teare

Local indie rockers Flat Mary Road have spent the last few months finding their sea legs again after adding some new members. We heard a demo of “Littered” in November (their first recording in the latest line-up) and now they’ve shared a version of Beat Happening’s “Cry for a Shadow” that has a little more meaning than just being a fun cover.

As guitarist (and former World Cafe production assitant) Alex Lewis points out via email, recording the cover was a opportunity for the band to find its new identity and really draw together:

I recently joined the band. The rest of the guys are old friends who’ve been playing together for years. They tell me this is a cover they’ve returned to over and over again. And I get it. The beauty of covering Beat Happening is that Calvin Johnson’s songs are just about perfect, but their recordings are a train wreck. They really sound like shit most of the time, but something still feels so good. The beauty seeps out. And you think: maybe we can actually make this sound good.


I’m reminded of this from Michael Azerrad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life:


“Implicit in Beat Happening’s music was a dare: If you saw them and said, ‘Even I could do better than that,’ then the burden was on you to prove it. If you did, you had yourself a band, and if you didn’t, you had to shut up. Either way, Beat Happening had made their point.”


Apparently this arrangement of our cover is somewhat updated from the way they were doing it before. An unintentional chord change or two as a result of line-up turnover, learning to play together anew, and also probably just getting older and forgetting. And there’s something real Beat Happening about that to me. It’s okay to not remember because now we’re trying. Now we have this arrangement of this song. And hopefully that’s enough to say we have ourselves a band.

Flat Mary Road play Johnny Brenda’s with Port St. Willow and Baker Man on March 24th; tickets and information can be found here. Listen to their cover below, followed by Beat Happening’s original.