21 October 2007

Islands @ R Bar - 19 October 2007

There's this particular vegan from Brooklyn who threw a bazillion shows/parties during CMJ 2007 and made the city smile musical smiles for a week. Thank goodness for him and his slew of events, I say, since the show at R Bar included one of my favorite bands alive today that I was unable to see at any of their other CMJ shows due to schedule conflicts. The band: Islands.

Islands have just finished recording their second album and have been using recent live shows to stretch out the new songs in front of fans who fell in love with the band's debut, Return to the Sea. Gently breaking the news of a slight change in direction by unveiling some of the new songs at smaller-venue live shows makes sense - the new songs don't sound a whole lot like any of the songs from the debut album. No longer are Nick and crew listening to Graceland on repeat. Instead, the band has likely been taking in a heavy diet of '70s rock.

Sure, there was always something slightly "prog" about the songs from Return to the Sea, but what Islands has been up to of late shows off an entirely different approach. Where they used to sound like laid back musicians hanging out on the beach in sandals drinking boat drinks, they now carry a sound that suggests steel toe boots and Budweiser. That's maybe a bit of a reach, but make no mistake about one thing: Islands have undergone a slight makeover and it's as unmistakable as can be. Gone are the band's trademark all-white threads and in their place, you guessed it - all black. They literally wear this new sound on their collective sleeve. No surprise though, Nicholas "Nick Diamonds" Thorburn has never been one for subtlety.

As for the performance on Friday - the show won't stand out as the best of the many shows I've seen Islands play, but I'd chalk up a large part of the blame for this to the crap sound/venue. Personally I adored all of the new songs, enjoyed hearing the old favorites, and can't wait to get a hold of the upcoming album and see them again. Check out a QT and MP3 of one of the new songs below.

"We Swim" (live from this show)

"We Swim" live (from this show) on YouTube | download QT

See more pictures of Islands (from this show) HERE.

Visit Islands on MySpace.