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My brother and I diverge on this album.  My brother was into these guys back when, whereas this was my gateway to FI.  My brother feels this might be their weakest album (While admitting to 'Seasons' being a stone cold GOAT) and finds that he skips tracks more on this album, than any of their others.  On the other hand, with this being my gateway into FI, I'm finding their older stuff a little bit more of a grower than this one which I love, and almost never find myself skipping.  A big reason could even be lyrical topics, whereas the older albums have some sad songs, some bitter songs, everything on 'Singles' is seemingly upbeat  'Seasons' is, of course, the standout, just an incredible pop song that is elevated after seeing it performed live that's actually about a sad subject (Losing someone close to you, like a breakup) but it's done with a positivity: a brash-I'm-not-gonna-change-myself-just-to-make-you-happy defiance.  But, lately, I find that 'Spirit' is my jam of choice, the chorus just SOARS, especially when he sings "Dreams come to those who let them enter guarded rooms".

 

BTW, a suggestion.  If this album isn't hitting you, watch some live performances.  I liked this album but didn't love it, until I saw the Austin City Limits performance and some of the songs either came alive while watching him dance (And what wonderful dancing it is!), watching him sing (He looks SO sincere), or even hearing explanations of the song.  I found myself really loving the album after seeing the songs performed live.

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Considering my original pick fell outside the timeframe (by about 40 years) I decided to go with these guys because as caley said, they're a divisive band.

 

The one thing I do enjoy about FI is that they seem like a band that rises above the electro-pop bullshit that has oversaturated the music market in the last few years. A lot of bands go the house or electronic route just because it's what's en vogue. Meanwhile, these guys were touring for years cultivating a sound that's totally unique even within the current music landscape before they got famous. They almost feel like The Smiths crossed with Bowie in the sense that Samuel T. Herring has a completely magnetic personality as a frontman that's very Morrissey-like, yet the music harkens back to when Bowie going to the synthesizers was at its best.

 

They also have a totally awesome instrument setup, with Herring only doing lyrics and vocals, Gerrit Welmers on the keyboard doing all the electronic stuff, and then William Cashion doing all the bass/guitar stuff. You'll get some awesome combinations from them on some songs where you barely get any guitar at all and the synth and bass are the only thing behind Herring's vocals, and then you'll get these intricately layered tracks at the same time. It's not done just to be minimalist or to be robust, either. They've figured out the best ways to combine the instruments even if the combinations look weird on paper.

 

When "Seasons" got released and they did the now famous Letterman performance, I was as high on them as I was any band that had come out in probably five or ten years. Unfortunately, I didn't listen to them as much as I should have because I had a falling out with the person who introduced them to me, and every time I heard anything from the band I turned it off because they reminded me of her. Which sucked because they were a band I enjoyed even before she fucked me over. A year's passed (and better women have entered my life), so I feel inclined to go back and listen to this again, which I passed through once or twice, enjoyed, but then moved away from because of what happened. They feel important to me.

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I enjoyed this more than I probably expected to. Which is not to say I haven't enjoyed some stuff from this blatant 80's pop revival that's been going on for a while. Destroyer and Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti have done albums I've enjoyed, for example. But I think this grabbed me more than any of that, and yeah it does come down to the vocalist. He's got a really interesting personality that comes through a lot in his singing and at least for me it gives this a little more dimension and character beyond just being a solid retro-ish modern-ish band that have their shit together.

 

Thought this was a pretty solid album myself, though I think I would need to give it more listens to pick any one favourite song. But on an initial listen I didn't really feel like there was a blatantly weak track or anything that stood out as a particularly large negative. A pretty enjoyable mature pop record overall, to my ears.

 

A big reason could even be lyrical topics, whereas the older albums have some sad songs, some bitter songs, everything on 'Singles' is seemingly upbeat

 

I'm not so sure I agree with that. Like the Moon doesn't strike me as that happy a tune at least in terms of the melody, and Fall From Grace has moments where - briefly - I found myself thinking "this kind of reminds me of Nick Cave". More so in terms of the personality than anything.

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So today, this rapper I like a whole bunch* put out a track from his new album. I mention this because the first verse is done by Samuel Herring from Future Islands (as Hemlock Ernst), and it turns out this is a good place to start with my opinion on Singles.

 

It's an album that isn't for me, from a band that used to be for me. This is the part that's interesting to me about the album, about watching that transition happen. For me it literally happens over the course of the record. I started listening to Future Islands back in 2009/10, whenever In Evening Air came out. I was in the middle of escaping a long term abusive relationship, and Tin Man felt like nuclear fire to cook with. Seriously, Herring's abilities on vocals are Tom Waits-esque, with combination of range, rawness and accuracy to an idea. Anyways, I needed that song for a good amount of time and I was grateful that they got to keep going as a band because I think a lot of their songs have the ability to have individual power over people. I still do. 

 

At the same time it always felt the only thing they could do with their sound was make it bigger and broader. It was the only thing that made sense. They were already making gigantic sounding break up anthems, so if they got any more popular they'd have to double down, and they did. So that Letterman performance happens, and that's my first time hearing Seasons. It was obvious this was going to be a big moment for them, because they had a chance to show a broader audience what they had been honing and working on. They knocked it completely out of the park. At the same time, there was a lyricality that I was missing. They weren't elaborating on anything, just speaking the simplest form of a message they possibly could. And that's... kind of the whole album, for me. 

 

I think the stereotype over that is supposed to be resentment? Like that a band "sold out" or whatever the fuck because they traded in exclusivity of knowledge for, like, mortgages. But really, I don't feel anything of the sort. I'm actually really glad they've broken out in some measure, because if anyone deserves to blow up from the We're All Super Scared 2000s nostalgia era, it is Future Islands. What they do is so smooth that it could have only been made that way through a lot of hard work. There is a craft commitment that I have to respect. And, frankly, what it's lead to is a lot of people talking about Future Islands in the way that I used to, and that's a great thing. That can help a lot more people than they used to be able to. That's only good.

 

And apparently Herring has flows for days and wants to fuck with rappers I love, so I'm probably still gonna get a chance to be wowed by them on occasion.

 

*scallops hotel is the name milo uses for himself when he's using his own beats instead of other people's.

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One of my favorite things about music is that the more of it you listen to, the more parallels you can draw between two groups, for any number of reasons. Most importantly, experiential ones often come to the forefront. It's fun like that.

 

Even though they don't really sound anything alike, I often think about the band James when I hear Future Islands. I think this is because they are both really great live bands who seemingly fall backwards in to a hit single. Unfortunately for them, the album doesn't quite carry through for a lot of people. I think Future Islands is lucky to come across at a time in which "going viral" is way more important than albums as a whole. Does that make sense to anyone but me? I dunno, maybe I'm just rambling.

 

As for the actual album, I remember being really surprised about how clear a soul influence it has compared to a lot of their other stuff, which always struck me as really sparse. I mean, some of the songs on Singles are just straight up Sam and Dave songs. I think it's interesting that BL88 made a point about how these songs are more surface level emotionally, and more broad. I think that's probably the case, and it's a weird switch, as I think their music has gotten more interesting, or at least more involved. 

 

That being said, I think the vocals are still the obvious showcase here. I have heard a lot of comparisons to Moz, which I guess I understand even if I feel that it's a bit misguided. I think what people latch on to is that it is increasingly rare for a band to showcase vocals and lyrics as the main instrument, especially for men. Obviously there are people like Adele who have this incredible voice, but I can't really think of men in the current musical landscape that are clear "front men" in the true sense of the word. 

 

As for overall quality, I think that Seasons stands above the rest of the album by a wide margin. I don't think that is a problem, really, nor is it a critique of the rest of the album. I just think it's hard to live up to that song, which is unfortunate. I think without Seasons, way fewer people hear the record, but those that do don't feel as though the songs pale in comparison to anything. 

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Since I'm not familiar with any of their other albums, I can't really speak to how this one differs. (This also makes me realize that I may have overestimated how much I like this album, since it hasn't led me to seek out their other stuff). I tracked down SINGLES after hearing Future Islands on the radio--I think it was Q--and being taken in by how seemingly genuine the guys involved were. And that's something that comes across in the live performances: Herring's "act" doesn't come across as affectation, but earnestness. That strikes me as rare, at least in pop music.

 

As someone has mentioned, Future Islands is also kinda remarkable because of how vocally (and lyrically) driven it is. Herring has an incredibly expressive voice, and not only is his regular singing voice unique, his falsetto and death-metal growl are pretty nifty. He really commands all of your attention.

 

Which is probably for the best, because the backing music is so thin it really harms my enjoyment of the album. The drums, in particular, are crap; I don't play drums, but give me a couple of lessons and I could play drums for Future Islands. I mean, I know the music is "easy listening" (or "adult contemporary"), and I don't need them to be the Melvins or anything, but I think that they could use a much fuller sound.

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In summer 2013 I was working at a sushi bar in downtown Knoxville and chasing a Russian redhead I worked with around. (Company ink is a vice.) So when she asked if I was going to the Future Islands show, I of course said "Yeah, I love them!" without ever having heard them play a note. They were playing a couple of blocks away at one of the great shitholes here, The Pilot Light, and it was as packed as I'd ever seen it. I had no idea what I was in for, as anyone who has seen them live can attest.

 

For one reason or another I never got around to checking out anything they'd recorded until Singles dropped the next year. I remembered the singer and the impression that he had left on me and listened to the album, again foolishly not expecting to be blown away. Herring has this remarkable quality that's missing in other current pop music where he can take an almost maddeningly simple line like "Nothing hurts this much" and make you FEEL it like you've just been punched in the stomach. I was so struck by his vocal work on this album that I didn't really notice that the band was doing the same thing underneath his vocals. There's so much going on underneath what appear to be simple pop songs. It's probably the album from 2014 I listened to most, and in retrospect would put it above the Merchandise and War On Drugs albums I had over it on my list.

 

Things didn't end up going well with the Russian girl, but I'm glad that didn't stop me from getting into this. I finally got around to checking out On The Water this year, and haven't been able to get into it yet.

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Since we're going with reviews in the form of short narratives (and I'm not inspired enough to write more than two sentences in other manner):

 

A guy from my school formed a band. Said band made a single. Said single hit radio (which is not an especially hard thing to accomplish over here if you know the right people, but I won't digress). Now, this guys sings REALLY well, so they exploited that. Their music is generic pop-rock, they had someone else write their lyrics (imagine the most cliche thing ever, "I love youuu trust me baby woooo" yeah that's totally it you got every lyric right) and the whole thing is incredibly stupid and you'd have to be incredibly shallow to like it. So of course-it worked. But an important thing to take into account is that there are no factories of pop over here. Radios largely play older songs. You will find equivalents of Iggy Azalea over here both in (lack of) quality and popularity, but they won't make radio or music TV channels.

 

Prior to listening to this album I knew of Future Islands as a band in vein of Imagine Dragons where they're quite popular amongst certain groups but not enough to be rape played at MTV and "properly" break out so they probably dont know the right people. Looking up what genre they played I thought there was a decent chance I'd like them. But about a minute into Seasons I knew I wouldn't. It seemed somewhat shallow and didn't do much for me musically. I didn't think the album was bad or anything-but it didn't sway me either way. After a couple of songs it turned into background noise more than anything..

 

Now that I'm done with my lukewarm and uninteresting review you're probably wondering what point was I trying to make. Well, both band #1 and Future Islands adhere to social norms of popular music of yesterday. But Future Islands' case I'd say there's a clear limitation in how far their popularity can go-which is the case for any current band really. And, living in an era where we are almost experiencing the death of bands in the circles of people that tell you what you should listen to, will we eventually be faced with a decline in "bands that want to be popular using conventional means"?. Will the indy scene gradually shrink until it's almost non-existent, the illuminati win and music becomes just another form of hypnosis and mind-altering? How long will it take? A thesis in sociology on the matter would be interesting.

 

 

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I'm thinking it's going to take a bit before I get fully comfortable writing about music.

 

I'd never heard any Future Islands before.  For the people saying that Seasons stands out and overshadows the rest of the album, I very much disagree.  It might just be because that's the one you guys are most familiar with.  To me, the first three songs sounded extremely similar, probably because of the tempo or the beat.  Like I'm thinking you could put the vocals for any one of them over top of the music of any of the others and it would still fit.  So by the third track, I was thinking "Okay, I guess this is what we're doing for the rest of the album?"  And then Doves sounded different (it's probably my favorite song on there) and nothing felt the same as anything else the rest of the way.  But even on subsequent listens, once I got to know everything better, there's still this three-headed over-long song sitting at the start to me.

 

I liked the album alright.  I'm not normally into the 80s sound, but these songs all have an energy, mostly from the vocals, that makes it difficult to dislike any of them.

 

I liked that "I hear the ghosts whisper, and those old guys watching me, but I feel safe" line.

 

Fall From Grace, with the gruff bitter voice for the first verse and the unexpected screaming, could have been really bad on paper, but it turned out alright.

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Perfectly pleasant pop.

 

I'll be honest, I don't find a lot of time for music with work commitments, so my listening to the album occurred during a time when I was marking a set of books. Whilst that means I can't exactly comment on the nuances of every little track, it does mean I feel that I can gauge what I think about it.

 

When I was younger, I was much more into rock and metal and wouldn't really have given this a second look. However, as I grow older, my pretentious-ness about music has died a death. If it sounds fun, then it is fun and worth my time.

Did any of this stand out above being a worthwhile listen to me? Not really. I've gone back since marking to listen to a couple of songs - they don't offend me but they don't really move me either.

 

I think it would potentially a grower - I just feel it is a shame that as I grow older, I don't have enough spare time to give it that chance.

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Now that I'm done with my lukewarm and uninteresting review you're probably wondering what point was I trying to make. Well, both band #1 and Future Islands adhere to social norms of popular music of yesterday. But Future Islands' case I'd say there's a clear limitation in how far their popularity can go-which is the case for any current band really. And, living in an era where we are almost experiencing the death of bands in the circles of people that tell you what you should listen to, will we eventually be faced with a decline in "bands that want to be popular using conventional means"?. Will the indy scene gradually shrink until it's almost non-existent, the illuminati win and music becomes just another form of hypnosis and mind-altering? How long will it take? A thesis in sociology on the matter would be interesting.

 

I mean, the US is an individualist society for one thing. For another, the need for bands made more sense when you needed people to play those instruments to get them onto a song. Like most industries, technology has made the band obsolete. I get the sense that the concept of a band just doesn't make sense anymore for a lot of people, especially since the Feature trend has expanded so deeply into pop. Like, back in the 70s and 80s, pop singers collaborating was a big weird fascinating deal. Now, it's expected.

 

It seems like the common thread behind musical forms that have become monoculturally obsolete (jazz, country, metal, punk, funk, reggae, disco to some extent) is the presence and perceived necessity of bands over the thematic ideas of the music. That's what has me curious.

 

Either way, at this point a band is an aesthetic choice and an expense more than it is a necessity, so the idea of a band making it "big" in the sense that it used to mean now seems farfetched. However I don't think that means the indie rock thing is going to stop happening. Those who stick to it will be the new metal culture, with enough infrastructure and press to survive but never really make sense to the masses. It also means that new participants in the indie scene is going to transition to both a closer reflection of this solo artist form, and as a response there will be more deepening of the current set of outsider forms like noise and absurdist pop acceptance (vaporwave, whatever you'd call PC Music, etc). This seems totally okay to me.

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The Interrupters are, in fact, a NEW~! ska/punk band. They are kind of seen as Rancid's heir (which is a peculiar thing to strive for in itself). Last year they released their eponymous debut album which I liked quite a bit. It's not especially ambitious lyrically-it's mostly just inoffensive with a bit of pretentiousness in tracks A Friend Like Me and This Is The New Sound. But, I musically, I reckon it's quite good! I don't care much for bands that try to sound like bands that try to sound like Bad Religion that get most of the "hype" out of all the contemporary punk acts, so this album was a nice refreshment from that. And there's also this.

 

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This actually reminds me of The Descendents a lot, just ska'd up. The Descendents are cool, so I guess I'm cool with this too. I mean there's no chance these guys made it out of rehearsal without doing "Parents" at least once.

 

I do think lyrically it's awfully thin but then again the target audience here is probably young enough that's of little real consequence. This is high school music, and the lyrics reflect high school thinking. The enthusiasm seems genuine, and in the end that's at least half the battle.

 

Best track: Can't Be Trusted really stood out to me

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I plan on listening to this tonight. I will add more as I listen. I listened to a ton of ska when I was younger, and I listened to a ton of ska when I was probably too old to be listening to ska. 

 

I'll just edit this one instead of double posting: 

 

I'm going to start by latching on a little to what DFA said about it being lyrically thin. I remember when I was in high school, I loved a Morrissey song that had the lyric "It could all end tomorrow/ Or it could go on forever" and I thought that was like the deepest fucking thing ever. I also remember pretty specifically being about five years older and listening to that song and thinking "Wait a second, that's not deep at all, those are literally the only two options". But there is something to be said for lyrics that appeal to you so strongly at a specific time in your life. I think that some of the songs on this interrupters album have that quality. If I was in high school, I'm sure this album would make me want to dance and rebel in the way that Less Than Jake made me want to smoke cigarettes and run away from home. They are youthfully evocative if ultimately flimsy, if that makes sense. 

 

Musically, this album is fucking hysterical. You could have told me this album was making fun of third wave ska (skatire? that's a pretty solid band name) and I would've believed you. Every song was a different ska band. For a former ska nerd like me, it was like watching a Tarantino flick and getting all the references. I hope that doesn't sound critical, because it isn't. I think ska should be fun and referential, and I think some of the fun should come from the fact that the drunken terrible band takes themselves a bit more seriously and likes the music a bit more than they'd like to let on. 

 

While listening to the album, I sent my friend a text and we had the following exchange: 

 

JR: Dude have you heard the interrupters? They are a new band that would've been our favorite band sophomore year of high school. 

Mike: I assume the are ska related.

JR: It's so ska. It's so ska part of me thinks they are making fun of ska. 

Mike: Would you call them post-ska? Are we there yet? I mean, as a society. 

 

So even if I never think of this band again, I'm glad I listened to them so that I could have that conversation. 

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Musically, this album is fucking hysterical. You could have told me this album was making fun of third wave ska (skatire? that's a pretty solid band name) and I would've believed you. Every song was a different ska band. For a former ska nerd like me, it was like watching a Tarantino flick and getting all the references.

 

Okay, the first time I heard the second track, White Noise, I was like "this sounds exactly like Time Bomb" and then immediately thought something like "Well I know next to nothing about this kind of music, so I'm probably just making an ignorant comparison from my very limited point of reference."  Then I Wiki'd the band and found out about their Rancid connection and was like "Oh, maybe I was on to something there."  And your comment kind of confirms it.

 

I found that when I was listening to this album on headphones on my public transit commute, with the volume not up too high so as not to disturb others, it sounded like it was pretty bad.  When I got home and could turn it up louder, that seemed to make it better.  But if I was forced to choose between "liked it" or "didn't like it", I'd have to go with "didn't like it".  There were some really cringetastic lyrical moments, like Family, and I mean there's not a lot in the vocals that you could call "singing".  (Feel like a hypocrite for throwing shade at some "just chill out and enjoy it" music like this though, because I'm expecting everyone to completely hate my album pick which is coming up next.)

 

For my favorite song, that yeah-oh part from Treat The Youth Right always ended up getting stuck in my head, so it's probably that one.

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originally i was going to write something where the joke was, all of my points included song titles from And Out Come The Wolves, but it's finals week so I don't have time to do that. as a result, I am going to leave my thoughts on the album at simply "why did they do this." it's not for any politically motivated reason because it's positioned in such a weird outdated space (for real, "the taxman?"), and it's not about appealing to the masses because this kind of music is p. much doomed to obscurity. 

 

it's not like musically broken or anything. produced well, delivers on what they're going for, just... I dunno. My question is "why" and I really can't imagine an answer more complicated than "cuz." Not that there's anything wrong with that (unless they're actively hurting people), just that it means I don't really want to give it time.

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I am not in this album club but thank you for pointing out this album to me. I have explored a lot of ska the past year due to my Ska Or Improv TUMBLR thing. I have listened to the first two Less Than Jake albums in their entirety multiple times this past year (usually along with my wife). I also am prepping to go see The Bosstones in July.

I grew up listening to a lot of ska -- I liked the ska-punk stuff more than The Specials and Madness, but I loved that world a lot, too. I also loved Op Ivy but wasn't too big a fan of Rancid (since there was a rule that you earned the right to look down on others if you had one Lookout Records purchase before Salvation was released as a video and I had multiple Queers and a Mr. T Experience album by that date).

But I am really liking what I am hearing from this. I can totally see putting this cassette tape into my mom's car and driving around between diners and 7-11's and talking about girls who wouldn't date me and tossing eggs at hippies from the rich town next to mine.

It's just fun music. It's sort of what I need/want. So much of pop/rock music is related around heartbreak and longing for girls/sex. I've been married for almost 10 years and with the same lady for 14. I have absolutely no memory of what that is like. I'm also not that mad at society. I mean, yeah, things like Baltimore and the general state of our world suck. But I'm more worried about trying to save money and pay off my mortgage. I've become an adult and am generally happy about the adult I've become.

I listen to music mostly for nostalgia these days. And this is nostalgic despite being new and I love it.

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I am starting to think that anything I pick will be too mainstream for this group.

 

I also will comment at least on the first couple of albums today and tomorrow. I have owned Future Islands for awhile, but I wanted to give it another play-through to make sure my thoughts on it are consistent.

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I am starting to think that anything I pick will be too mainstream for this group.

 

I also will comment at least on the first couple of albums today and tomorrow. I have owned Future Islands for awhile, but I wanted to give it another play-through to make sure my thoughts on it are consistent.

 

I think people picking "mainstream" albums would be good for me, as I often overlook recent pop and rock stuff out of hand. It would be good for me to sit down and reacquaint myself with it.

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