Watch & Listen

Acclaimed modernist pop band Islands will release their new album A Sleep & A Forgetting this February 14th via Anti-Records. While the record continues the band's penchant for crafting adventuresome and infectious state of the art pop music, this time band leader Nick Thorburn has infused the songs with a personal introspection that gives the record a new and powerful emotional resonance.

"This album is far more personal than any I've made before," Thorburn explains. "I left New York after the end of a relationship and came to Los Angeles. There was a piano where I was staying and that's where I wrote these songs. This record deals with loss, with memory and forgetting and with dreaming. I started writing it on Valentine's Day and its coming out on Valentine's Day."

A Sleep & A Forgetting is the anticipated follow up to Islands critically heralded record Vapours, which Black Book described as "infectious and weird....masterful" and Popmatters proclaimed "a damn fine record." The new album was produced by Thorburn and fellow Islands member Evan Gordon in less than two weeks, the 11 songs recorded live with hardly a single overdub. It's a stripped down process and beautifully understated sound which only reinforces the confessional content of the lyrics

The new album offers all the shimmering sonic textures and irresistible melodies that have come to define Islands enduring appeal, but there is a deeply personal cathartic undercurrent to the songs. "The sound is really my interpretation of soul music," Thorburn offers. "I mean, I'm a white kid from Canada so it's gonna be very warped. But that's where my head was at, that particular way of dealing with themes of pain and heartbreak."

While admittedly listening to the classic soul of Smokey Robinson and The Temptations, Thorburn was also influenced by the introspective folk of artists such as Sibylle Baier, Maddy Prior and June Tabor. As a result the sound is less an approximation of classic Northern soul and more akin to the symphonic and cathartic pop of soul baring artists like Harry Nilsson and Roy Orbison. As the late Link Wray once said, "Soul music is pain."

And it comes together to striking effect on songs like the heartfelt ballad "Same Thing" with its echoing modernist beat, lilting refrain and confessional lyrics such as: "I can't wait to see, what becomes of me, the ease with which I sleep, tends to frighten me." As Thorburn explains, "I wrote that song when I was just in the depths. It was just this surreal and intensely cathartic experience." On the darkly dramatic "Oh Maria" Thorburn sings of Buddy Holly's anguished young widow and her reoccurring crash site dreams. "She would have these dreams about being in the field where his plane went down," Thorburn says. "She would be trying desperately to get past all the bystanders to see him one last time. It's such an evocative story it just stuck with me. And it's absolutely consistent with the album's themes of heartbreak, death and dreaming. "

Far from being self pitying, A Sleep & A Forgetting powerfully transforms personal unrest into affecting and soulful pop music. "It's kind of frightening," Thorburn reflects.

"I've always hidden behind devices and humor but this album is just so much starker and open." And it's a risk that absolutely pays off. The new record features some of the most startling and memorable songs from a supremely talented band which has continued to both evolve or surprise.

Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain is an electronic dance band from Vancouver, B.C. Stirring and soulful, they blend syncopated bass lines and arpeggiated synth chords with live instrumentation and soaring vocals to create a sound that is both deeply moving, and sweetly captivating. With old heartbreak on the mountain style vocals, Bear Mountain sings with powerful release and vulnerable honesty.

Bear Mountain began as the bedroom project of Ian Bevis. After releasing early demos and remixes online, Ian caught the ear of long-time friend and collaborator Kyle Statham. Together, the two friends brought the sounds to the stage by blending live instrumentation with dance style electronics. Their sound has been described as a mixture between Cut Copy and Passion Pit, infusing lead singer Ian Bevis' vulnerable and emotive vocals.

Says Ian Bevis, "We were trying to capture a feeling. When we wrote these songs we were just completely honest with ourselves, and I think that comes across in the music."

The debut album from Bear Mountain is titled "XO", a collection of songs that is unmistakably fresh and powerfully captivating. From lush synth sounds and chopped vocal samples, to tropical drum beats and house drenched kicks, the album manages to capture the feeling of the infinite and the impossible, all rolled into one.

$15 adv / $18 door

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Islands with Bear Mountain

Tuesday, September 24 · Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM at The Chapel