Islands

Holy Carp / Production Simple Presents

Islands

TEEN

Sat, September 20, 2014

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm (event ends at 11:59 pm)

Zanzabar

Louisville, KY

$13.00 - $15.00

Tickets Available at the Door

This event is 21 and over

Islands
Islands
On the first track from Islands' new album—the winsome, tropicalia-inflected "Wave Forms"—front man Nick Thorburn opens the record by singing, "I won't ride another wave and I won't write another word after today." In light of the rest of the album, the statement is both an admonition and a kind of warning. Ski Mask, the band's fifth album, is equal parts beauty and venom—an album that percolates with the kind of polymorphous pop and hooky, left-of-center rock songs that have long been the band's stock and trade. This time around, however, the artful indie-pop comes with a decidedly melancholy punch.

"This record is really about being angry," says Thorburn. "For better or worse, this record kind of sums up my experience thus far with being in a band. I feel like we're kind of at a crossroads and this record is kind of me just declaring forfeiture in some ways. Like the third act of a movie—just after it seems like all hope is lost, that's when the big breakthrough moment happens. For Islands, this is us waiting for the breakthrough moment."

If Ski Mask is both a personal statement about what it means to be in a band—as well as a statement about the mercurial nature of the music business itself—then it's certainly well earned. Thorburn, along with a rotating cast of bandmates, has been working under the moniker of Islands for nearly a decade. Formed in 2005 after the dissolution of Thorburn's previous (and much beloved) band The Unicorns, Islands quickly established themselves as one of the most erudite and forward-thinking pop bands ever to emerge from the Montreal rock scene. Over the course of four albums—2006's Return to the Sea (inspired by South African high life music), 2008's Arm's Way (a study in orchestral pop music and playful psych), 2009's Vapours (pulsing electro pop), and 2012's A Sleep & A Forgetting (soulful singer/songwriter fare)—Thorburn and co. showed off a remarkably chameleonic ability to bend a variety of different musical styles to their will. It's a talent that that historically made each Islands record it's own very singular listening experience. It's also a defining quality that made Islands difficult to pin down and nearly impossible to neatly classify (which, one expects, has always been the band's goal).

"This record is kind of a culmination of all the different things we've done over the years," says Thorburn. "It's basically a melting pot of all those sounds. So much of this record is about identity—specifically, the quest for finding out your own identity. Islands has always been kind of about that. In a lot of ways, we've always been kind of this homeless entity. We didn't really fit in specifically with any genre and we were really never part of any community. Islands has always been it's own thing…and I think the frustration of feeling like this very isolated band with no place to properly fit in made everything come to a head on this record. All of these feelings and ideas that have been bubbling up over the course of four previous albums finally came to the surface on this one This record is like a summation of Islands, everything we've ever done distilled into one record. It's basically an essential introduction to Islands—it's everything we've ever been about."

Ski Mask, while arguably the most sonically diverse album Islands has ever made (which is saying something), also plays out like Thorburn's personal frustrations writ large. Songs like "Death Drive" "Nil" and "Of Corpse" balance beautiful melodies against some of the darkest lyrical missives that Thorburn has ever written. When he sings, "Are you impressed with how depressed I've become?" it's hard not to register the sting. Still, Thorburn—along with current bandmates Evan Gordon, Geordie Gordon, and Luc Laurent—can't seem to help but make beautiful music, which serves as a nice counterbalance to the record's heavier concerns. Even with a back catalog already heavily loaded with gorgeous songs, tracks like "We'll do it so you don't have to" and "Here Here" rank among some of the most beautiful the band has ever recorded. The record might also be the band's darkest—featuring lyrics that flatly state that "Life's not a gas, it's a gas chamber" and, more pointedly, elsewhere there is a borrowed quote from Cornel West: "Featherless, born between urine and feces." As a result, Ski Mask offers beauty and bleakness in mostly equal measure. If the record proves to be Islands' swan song—a possibility Thorburn doesn't dispute—it certainly makes for a compelling one.

For Thorburn and his bandmates, the release of Ski Mask is something akin to throwing down the gauntlet. It's also the first (and one hopes, not the last) album to be released on the band's own Manqué Music label. Despite whatever reservations Thorburn has about navigating the murky waters of the music business, he remains genuflect about the band. "I feel like I'm still getting better at making songs and making records," he says. "It took a while for us to find ourselves as a band and so much of this record is about struggling and confusion, but I do think we've really come into our own with this record. It feels like the best representation of Islands that has probably ever existed. For the first time in a long while, I'm genuinely excited about what happens next."
TEEN
TEEN
TEEN’s new album, Love Yes, explores the disharmony and empowerment that both sexuality and spirituality can create within the modern woman’s psyche. Universal ideas of loyalty, pleasure, purity, power, aging, and love are confronted with a knowable specificity. There is a quality of wholesomeness, but also an edge—a kind of wise anger and electricity.

After extensive touring behind The Way and Color (2014), the band had to keep traveling to find Love Yes. The group first went to Woodstock in the dead of winter to write new material. Here, keyboardist and singer Lizzie Lieberson created the stunning, autobiographical “Please.” But the band, and especially lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Teeny Lieberson, felt a crushing lack of creative energy. Recognizing the need to recharge, they took some time off. Teeny moved to a small lakeside cabin in Morehead, Kentucky. Surrounded by rolling hills, sparked with sudden thunderstorms, and inspired by the musical joy of uninhibited late-night bluegrass jams and barn parties, Teeny immediately began writing again.

Here she felt a new freedom in her songwriting; drawing on themes important to her identity as a woman, and exploring love, sexuality, and the tension between desire and the construct of desire that can exist within oneself, in relationship, and within society.

After three weeks in Morehead, Teeny returned to New York to workshop with rest of the band, including drummer Katherine Lieberson and bassist Boshra Al-Saadi. Acknowledging the benefits of being creative in a cocoon like the lakeside Kentucky country, the band decided to record at the Old Confidence Lodge, in secluded Riverport, Nova Scotia. Leaving the noise and relentless energy of the city behind, TEEN retreated into the nurturing stillness of Nova Scotia, the Lieberson sisters’ childhood home. Situated on the La Have River, the studio was hidden in a perpetual mist while the band recorded day and night. Fueled by new material, a change of place, and creative collaboration, the lull of the winter lifted and the band came together in a new way. Teaming up once again with producer Daniel Schlett, TEEN wanted to capture the energy of full band recording. Rather than multi-tracking, Schlett worked with the band as they played the songs relentlessly, waiting to achieve the right energy and take as a group.

The result is a beautiful, detailed album about womanhood and the embodiment of the sensual, played by a group fully in step with one another. Love Yes bursts into the static air with a vibrancy recognized by its confidence and power.
Venue Information:
Zanzabar
2100 South Preston Street
Louisville, KY, 40217
http://www.zanzabarlouisville.com/