Thursday, August 03, 2006Islands in the Sun
Sometimes I take for granted all the gigs I go to, but Islands last night at Bastard Club really made me realise what an amazing time for music this is. I can't ever remember a time ever when there were so many genius, inventive, creative bands making music, playing inspiring live shows. I know, I know...the 50s, or the 60s, or the 70s blah blah blah, but not on the same scale as now. I do think it's something about the year 2001. Before then indie was a dirgy, whiney, very conventional genre. I can't even remember what most of the bands sound like...the Big Yoga Muffins, Fifth Amendment, whatever, I can't even remember. I picked up a Melody Maker from 2000 a year ago and I couldn't even imagine what any of the bands sounded like.
Anyway! Islands were born out of the Unicorns, an amazing short-lived three-piece who imploded at the end of 2004. They only played three UK shows, all of which in London. Two of my friends saw them at the Barfly and left disappointed. I was lucky enough to catch them supporting Yeah Yeah Yeahs and it apparently was the best of the three shows. I'd never heard anything like them before, they were noisy, young, but had that same whispy, optimistic, utopian charm that Islands have. They brought people on-stage and nobody knew what was going on. Some poor photos!. Anyway, all was quiet. And then there were Islands, who originally featured Nick and Jamie from Unicorns, but on 28th May 2006, Jamie left. So there's only one unicorn on the island. But he's a pretty one.
Islands were amazing. There was seven of them on Bastard Club's tiny stage, so the drummer, Aaron Harris, was hidden behind two amps. They were constantly running around, swapping instruments. They played most of the songs from their debut album, Swans, but really brought it to life with the live instrumentation. The warm strings and the country twangs shattered so many hearts in that room, there's something so perfect about those chord changes that you can't help but weaken at the knees. You can tell they feel it too, they all sing their hearts out and play their instruments with smiles on their faces. There are lots of life and death references, and singer, Nick Diamond, wears bones around his neck. Like fellow Montrealites, Arcade Fire, mortality fascinates them, it's like an exhilerating rush of possibility and realisation. To finish their encore they played the first track of their album, Swans (Life After Death), a 9 minute cacophony, the energy coming in and out and sounding on the edge of something crazy. It was the highpoint of their set, appropriately, uncontrollable seizures, passion. I didn't know what to say when it finished, I was speechless. If it's so powerful listening to this music I can't imagine how it must feel to write it and perform it.
Soooooo...I really think you should listen to Islands if you haven't yet. Catch them if you can, you never know how long they'll be together. Listen to their music on their MySpace.