Posts Tagged ‘Islands’

Written For the Yellow Bird Project:
December 6th, 2008 by themiddledistancerunner

In the second installment of my “Best of 2008” series, I will be unveiling my top songs of the year. Just to warn you, this is a list of my most listened to songs. It’s not a list of what I think were my favourites throughout the year. Also, I only put one song by each band or artist. If I didn’t do this the list would be almost exclusively Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver. Other than that there aren’t really many surprises except for a few bands here and there where I thought to myself, “wow did I really listen to them that much?” Anyways, without further ado, here are my favourite 20 songs of 2008:

20. Stars – The Night Starts Here

I remember first hearing this song while in London. I was immediately addicted. It quickly became the song of the trip. By the way, have you heard Stars’ new EP called the Sad Robots EP? It was number 3 on my list of the top 5 EPs of 2008. You should really check it out.

19. Laura Marling – Cross Your Fingers

If you don’t know who Laura Marling is yet than you are really missing out on one of the top new artists of the year. She writes some of the most beautiful songs, and she is only 18 years old. Unbelievable talent.

18. Hot Chip – Ready for the Floor

This is my favourite song from Hot Chip’s new album, Made in the Dark. I don’t know if the album as a whole will stand up to their amazing previous album, The Warning, but it is nevertheless pretty damn good.

17. Chairlift – Bruises

This song is just catchy as hell. Every time I see that Itunes ad, the song stays in my head for the rest of the day. The rest of the album isn’t bad either. It’s called Does You Inspire You. Give it a listen.

Chairlift – Bruises

16. Plants & Animals – Bye Bye Bye

This one is by my fellow Montrealers, Plants & Animals. I absolutely love their debut album, Parc Avenue, which was nominated, but didn’t win the Polaris Music Prize. Have you seen their performance on Pitchfork TV’s “Don’t Look Down”? Check it out here.

15. The Hush Sound – Break The Sky

I don’t know if anybody knows about them, but I love them. Catchy tunes, singer with an outstanding voice, what more do you need?

The Hush Sound – Break The Sky

14. Horse Feathers – This is What

I became obsessed with this band for a good 2 months. Haven’t really listened much to them since then, but I still consider this one of my favourite songs of the year.

Horse Feathers – This is What

13. Dr. Dog – The Old Days

How can you not love this song? The whole album is amazing, but this was definitely my favourite and most listened to track on it. Check out this awesome performance:

12. Miniature Tigers – Hot Venom

I recently got into this band. They are really poppy and catchy as hell, and I love every minute of it. This song is a cute little ditty about falling in love….and venom.

Miniature Tigers – Hot Venom

11. Man Man – Top Drawer

How insane is Rabbits Habbits? Without a doubt one of my favourite albums of the year. This song is tied with “Mister Jung Stuffed” for most listened to song on the album. I was lucky enough to see them play live with Yeasayer opening. Yeasayer was just ok. Man Man was INCREDIBLE. One of the best live shows I have ever seen. If you get a chance to see these guys live, please do so. You won’t regret it.

Man Man – Top Drawer

10. Islands – Pieces of You

My favourite song on the new Islands album, Arm’s Way. Love the strings.

Islands – Pieces of You

9. The Dears – Money Babies

This song, along with “Demons” and “Lights Off” are my favourite songs from the new Dears album, MISSILES. I think it actually may be my favourite Dears album to date. Have you heard about the new Dears band members? Pretty talented company.

8. Vampire Weekend – Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa

I really could have picked any song from Vampire Weekend’s stellar self-titled debut album, but I think this just might be my fave. Afro-poppy goodness!

7. Tokyo Police Club – Graves

To be honest, I liked Tokyo Police Club more before they released their debut album, Elephant Shell. The album, does have some goodies though. And they’re Canadian, so they get extra points.

6. The Dodos – The Season

This song is just completely ridiculous. I was lucky enough to see the Dodos play it live at Sala Rossa in Montreal a few months ago and it completely blew me away. It is arguably the best single song I have ever seen played live. You can’t really get the same feel from watching a video, but hopefully this will give you an idea:

5. Pete & The Pirates – Bears

Awesome song by some talented Britts called Pete & the Pirates.

Pete & The Pirates – Bears

4. Pinback – How We Breathe

I love Pinback and everything they have ever done. It’s kind of weird how they are a completely different band live, but I still love them. This is the song I have listened to most off of their new album, Autumn of the Seraphs.

Pinback – How We Breathe

3. Born Ruffians – Little Garcon

I don’t know what it is but this song has a certain charm that just grabs me. By far my favourite song on Born Ruffians’ excellent debut LP, Red, Yellow & Blue.

Born Ruffians – Little Garcon

2. Bon Iver – Flume

This song could have easily been my song of the year. I got to see Bon Iver play in Montreal a few months ago and wow what a show. And lucky me, I’m seeing them play again on Thursday, this time in New York City, with the Tallest Man on Earth opening.

1. Fleet Foxes – Mykonos

But of course the best song of the year is by Fleet Foxes. So far they are 2 for 2 in my “Tops of 2008” lists. Their Sun Giant EP is my EP of the year, and now “Mykonos” wins for song of the year. Will they sweep the board with the best album of the year? Stay tuned to find out.

Now that you know mine…what are your favourite songs of the year?

Until next week…

The Middle Distance Runner

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I just got Sirius satellite radio, and while there are a lot of pretty useless channels I have found one that I have been listening to pretty frequently. It is called Left of Center and they pretty much play everything that I listen to on a daily basis while introducing me to some cool new stuff as well. So far I have heard them play Pinback, The Shins, Islands, Sonic Youth, Vampire Weekend, Radiohead, Bon Iver, The Arcade Fire, Interpol and Ratatat. Not only do they play a lot of great music, but they have some amazing special performances and programs. All of next week, Kings of Leon will co-host the afternoon show, and on Friday, Beck will play his entire new album, Modern Guilt, while throwing in a couple of other songs here and there. Pretty awesome stuff.

Does anyone know of any other Sirius sations worth listening to?

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So this was my fourth time seeing islands live. It was definitely a very different vibe than any of the other Islands shows I have seen. First of all, instead of the white clothes, which the band usually wears, the band was dressed all in black and singer Nick Thorburn had his face painted like a mime. The only stage decorations that they had were what looked like little red trees and the entire back wall of the stage was black with twinkling stars. I guess the darkness of their clothing and stage was to reflect the darkness of their new album Arm’s Way. And the night was definitely a night to showcase their new album.

They opened with “The Arm” and “Pictures of You”, and played most of the other songs on the album, reverting to songs off of their previous album, Return to the Sea, only three times. Before they were about to play “Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby”, Nick said they were going to play a song off of the old album and told the audience not to cheer but to boo the song, saying “out with the old and in with the new”. The crowd couldn’t help but cheer and sing along to the old songs. When they played “Swans (Life After Death)” as the first encore, and then “Rough Gem” as the second encore, the crowd pretty much went nuts. They finished off the night with “To a Bond”. They really love their long songs. The crowd started to cheer about 5 times because they thought the song was over but it just kept going. It was a pretty good finish though I have to say.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that most of the people in attendance preferred the old songs to the new. Either that or they hadn’t had a change to listen to the new album.
Overall it was a pretty good show, but I miss the old islands. I miss the fun islands. Hopefully this darkness stuff is just a phase, and they will go back to the good stuff on the next album.

As a side note, the Chow brothers (not actually brothers) were awesome.

Didn’t have my camera this time so no pictures (sorry) but here is a video of Islands performing “The Arm” live, not in NYC, but it pretty much looked exactly like that, except that Nick now has short hair.

And finally…

I bumped into Rufus Wainwright today! I saw him walking in the Meat Packing District, just outside of Pastis. I was a bit star struck, but i managed to get something out about how we are both from Montreal. He smiled and said nice and then told me to enjoy the beautiful weather. Second big celebrity spotting of the summer!

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New Islands! It’s about time. I am torn on this album. At first I was mildly disappointed, then my disappointment changed into a slight liking. And finally I have arrived at this state of intense reverence for parts of the album and strong dislike for other parts. Islands’ sound hasn’t changed much since the last album, which is a good thing. What this album does provide is a more dramatic and intense sound, with moments of levity and Brian Wilsonesque harmonies. Where Return to the Sea was fun and made you want to dance, Arm’s Way makes you feel.

They don’t completely lose their dancey sound however. At the midway point of “J’aime Vous Voire Quitter” the song, fast paced and guitar heavy, lead by the yelling of lead singer Nick Thorburn, transforms into an Islands dance party, complete with steel drums, only to slow down to a sombre finish where Diamonds laments “you said you had my back, but I was attacked by a pack of dogs frothing at the mouth”
One of my favourite songs on the album, and maybe one of my favourite Islands songs on both albums is “Pieces of You”. It’s probably the catchiest song on the album along with “The Arm”. It goes through many different emotions, with beautiful violin leading the way. The song starts out with Thorburn’s cryptic message that, “the capillaries of the community are hemorrhaging on everything”. As with most Islands songs, I have no idea what he is talking about. He ends the song by singing sadly, “It’s a cold, cold world we swam into”.

The song “Life in Jail” takes a long time to get started. The first two and a half minutes of the song are just plain boring. Then the song picks up with some funky guitar and violin. The song then ends excitingly with some unprecedented ba ba ba’s. One song I really can’t stand is “I Feel Evil Creeping In”. I don’t understand why. When I saw them perform this song live at the Osheaga Festival in Montreal 2 summer’s ago I remember really enjoying it. I’m not sure really how they have changed it from what I saw live but when I listen to it on the album it makes me cringe.

The highlight of this album for me is the playing of violinists Alex and Sebastian Chow. They’re violin parts really drive the album forward and make you feel the emotions that the songs evoke. Whereas in Return to the Sea the violins were used more as accompaniments to the other instruments, in Arm’s Way they are what makes the album as good as it is. I just can’t wait to see them reproduce these songs live. And I will do just that on May 24th at Webster Hall in New York City.

1. The Arm – Exciting start
√ 2. Pieces of You – Catchiest (best?) song on the album (violin!)
3. J’aime Vous Voire Quitter – Intense
4. Abominable Snow – Nice guitar, violin and harmonies at the end
5. Creeper – Catchy!
6. Kids Don’t Know Shit – Grows on you
7. Life in Jail – Boooring, until 2:35
√ 8. In the Rushes – Tied for best song on the album! (Nice violin plucking)
√ 9. We Swim – Intense, Emotional = Goodness
10. To a Bond – Almost 8 minutes long, at least 4 of which are really good
11. I Feel Evil Creeping In – Better live
12. Vertigo – Extravagant and appropriate ending


In case you haven’t seen it, this is their video for “The Arm”:

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