In May 2016, I was in search of a boisterous event to celebrate my 20th birthday. Naturally, I scavenged the Internet to fulfill this desire. During this hunt, I came across Islands, an indie rock band from Montreal, playing a show at The Horseshoe Tavern – one of my favourite venues. I rallied up some of my dearest pals and we hit the town. When Islands hit the stage that night, I was beyond impressed. Islands are a wondrous band to see live, they bring energy to the stage and their sound is remarkably tight – nearly an exact replica of their studio sound.
Islands have been making music for over a decade now. In 2004, The Unicorns split and members Nicholas Thorburn and Jamie Thompson formed Islands. In 2005, the group released their first studio album Return To The Sea, although the album didn’t hit the shelves (yes, albums actually hit shelves back in 2005) in North America until 2006.
To me, Islands’ sound has progressed, growing more impassioned with every album release. That’s not to say Return To The Sea was a lousy album, but rather to attest to the growth of the band as a whole. Over the years, the group has released some stellar records. I’d say their fourth album, Ski Mask, must be near the top of the list. Songs like Wave Forms and Shotgun Vision are defining songs that I think best represent Islands.
As good of an album as Ski Mask is, the bands best stuff came in 2016 when they released both Should I Remain Here At Sea? and Taste (yes, that’s right, they actually released two albums in one year). Both debut tracks from these albums draw you in from the get-go. Should I Remain Here At Sea? begins with Back Into It, a velvety start that gradually builds into a spirited chorus, lyrically questioning the difference between himself and a mysterious other who seemingly has it all figured out. Taste’s opening track, Charm Offensive, doesn’t skip a beat and heads straight for that electronic sound with compelling drum machines and vintage synths. Charm Offensive is about the experience of drug-taking and the importance of keeping one’s awareness through the chemical haze so as not to lose the experience.
Alright, I can’t bring this post to a conclusion before singling out one song in particular. If you’re going to check out Islands then I can’t think of a better recommendation than the track Hallways. This song kicks off with a steady drum beat followed by an absolutely riveting keyboard riff that leaves you bobbing your head well after the song’s concluded. Oh, and the music video for this track features skeleton puppets jamming out, so you’re gonna wanna check that out too.
Unfortunately, Islands have no tour stops in Toronto for the foreseeable future, but I’m sure they’ll be back soon, and I highly recommend checking them out when they do.