A few years ago, I had a chance to see Islands live in Dayton, Ohio. At the time, they hadn’t yet released their debut album Return to the Sea. I was unfamiliar with their work and subsequently blown away. Their music was astoundingly catchy and a great logical progression from the band’s predecessor, The Unicorns. It was a time when songs like “Rough Gem” and “Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby” were on repeat.
Since then, things have certainly changed (and not for the worse, either). Their latest record Vapours totes those same wonderful Nick Diamonds lyrics, but this time, their sound blends in hints of disco, afropop and ’70s rock (not necessarily at the same time). According to Nick (read below), that’s partly courtesy of the guys from The Magic. Also, J’aime Tambeur is back behind the drums. Welcome back, J’aime!
Islands – “No You Don’t” (from Vapours)
Islands are playing tonight (Oct. 15) at Subterranean. Here’s a list, courtesy of Nick Diamonds.
1) The Everly Brothers – “Take a Message to Mary” (from Greatest Hits) – “Could you imagine what would happen to the Everlys in prison? Such gentle, delicate, soft. Oh, and Mary—she’s fucking Garfunkel.”
2) Abner Jay – “I’m So Depressed” (from One Man Band) – “I wrote an homage to Abner Jay with my other band Human Highway, called ‘Ode to Abner.’ I like songs that make me feel sad for some reason. Recently I was at a party and Despot and Mike & Evan from Ratatat were belting this song out, while Mike pounded the chords out on a small upright piano. Ironically, it was me who was depressed. They seemed to be having a great time.”
3) Rapping Duke – “Da Ha Da Ha” – “Jay-Z, recently interviewed by MTV about why he was at a Grizzly Bear concert, said he hopes indie rock can encourage rap to return to the days when people were really trying to push things forward. A) That’s a weird linear logic, and B) I hope he was referring to Rapping Duke.”
4) Kate & Anna McGarrigle – “Heart Like a Wheel” (from Kate & Anna McGarrigle) – “Man, speaking of sad songs, this is one of my favourites. Sisters from Montreal who know how to make me feel really sorry for myself.”
5) The Magic – “Mr. Hollywood” – “And book-ending the whole thing with another brother outfit, the brothers who formed this band are now playing in Islands, after having played on Vapours. This song is best enjoyed with a walkman on Hollywood Blvd, near Vine.”