Friday, December 02, 2005

Chart magazine and Toronto's Drake Hotel launched their live music series, which will feature a show on the first Thursday of every month, with a full house of hipsters who wanted to get their first look at the much buzzed about Islands.
The band is comprised of former Unicorns Nick Diamonds (vocals and keyboards) and J'aime Tambour (drums), and last night also featured Royal City's Jim Guthrie on guitar, Togo native Patrice Agbokou on bass, a saxophonist and two violinists. I'm not sure if that's a permanent lineup, however, as I can see this group becoming like Montreal's version of Broken Social Scene with rotating members. Almost everyone in The Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and Bell Orchestre play on the group's Return To The Sea debut album.
The record will be released in Europe on Rough Trade Records in January, and I wouldn't be surprised if a similar deal is set up for Canada.
It's virtually impossible to categorize the band, as it sounds different on almost every song. I'd describe a couple of tracks as vaudevillian art rock, while a couple of others — appropriately enough — had island rhythms. There was some quirky indie pop. I heard occasional traces of Poi Dog Pondering. One song seemed to borrow the melody from Billy Joel's We Didn't Start The Fire in places, but obviously with much more indie cool cachet. Another track started with a dub rhythm, then turned into some sort of gypsy thing, and then went dub again. The final number, which apparently was about the end of the world, turned the violins into country fiddles — which was slightly offputting visually since the players were white-clad oriental men. The show ended without an encore after an hour.
I don't know if Islands will become the next big thing in the world of indie pop, but I'll take it over the Unicorns. This was one of the band's first shows, and I'll be interested in seeing it again a year from now to see how things evolve. I've got a hunch that I'll like the group more live than on record.
What do you think of that fancy psychedelic photo I took of the band?

np The Snitches - Black Book

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