Future Islands

Future Islands

Future Islands' romantic synth sound scales new heights with On the Water, the Baltimore trio's most ambitious and fully realized statement yet. Built around a song cycle exploring love, loss, and memory, their latest album finds the band continuing to deliver pounding rhythms, swelling melodies, and undeniable hooks - but finding new ways to probe inner space and tug at hearts.

Convening in March 2011 in Elizabeth City, NC's historic, waterfront Andrew S. Sanders House, vocalist Samuel T. Herring, bassist William Cashion, and keyboardist Gerrit Welmers lived together in a space that served as both studio and sleeping quarters. The band used this tranquil retreat to refine their most reflective and mature batch of songs to date, adding new material in the process.

What emerged is a lush yet visceral album about two parallel journeys--one physical and one psychological. On the Water's narrator offers enough detail that their story feels personal, yet open enough that any listener can inhabit each twist and emotional pang as their own.

Travelling on foot, we seek something - an exorcism, an epiphany, an ending. Memories wash across us as in life: nonlinear, linked by emotional resonance rather than conventional chronology. And so, the pain of letting go channeled by "The Great Fire" collides with a moment's fleeting serenity in the Eno-esque "Open"; the triumphant rallying cry "Give Us the Wind, " despite its confident declaration of individual strength, remains a mile away from final chapter "Tybee Island." It is there the song cycle ends, and what is discovered in "Tybee Island" will be as different as the lives lived by each person who finds their way to this album.

On the Water may unearth aural memories as well. The mind may flash upon our first encounters with New Order's "Ceremony," David Bowie's "Heroes," or The Cure's Disintegration, memories which, are continually reborn and reimagined in the context of the here and now. And as the song-cycle's narrator comes to terms with his own memories, his singular journey collapses into the collective experience of album-closer "Grease." It is here that the "I" of the nine previous songs collapses into the "we" of Future Islands, now singing the literal journey of the people who came together by the ocean to deliver these songs into our ears.

Far from just a narrative trope, the ocean played an integral role in On the Water's creation. The bulk of the album was recorded with waves pounding sand mere feet away. The album opens and closes with field recordings made by the band on a nearby dock, and one pivotal track, "Tybee Island," began with vocals recorded on the beach (subsequently fleshed out in the studio with additional instrumentation).

The ocean inhabits every note of these songs. On the Water is an addictive ride that demands repeat listens, eagerly awaiting the test of time. To produce these results, Future Islands fleshed out its sound with the additions of cello, violin, marimba, and field recordings. As with their 2010 breakthrough album In Evening Air, On the Water was produced by frequent collaborator Chester Endersby Gwazda, perhaps best known as producer of Dan Deacon's Bromst. Noted guests include Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner, who provides vocals on "The Great Fire," and Double Dagger's Denny Bowen on live drums and additional percussion.

For all its undeniable weight, On the Water is not a sullen concept album. Every track on the record works both as a contribution to the whole and as a stand-alone pleasure, evident in the insistent throbs, addictive melodies, and stirring vocals of tracks like "Close to None," "Balance," and first single "Before the Bridge."

Make no mistake, On the Water is a record that aims to both break your heart and heal your wounds.

The legend of the chaotic phenomenon known as XBXRX began back in '98 with a group of southern-bred kids aged 13 to 15.

Fueled by explosive adolescent energy and brimming with rebellion against the complacency of their conservative hometown, the youths hit the studio soon after, tracking their initial sides before heading off on the first of what would become dozens of separate tours. These tours would bring them across the entire continental US, Hawaii, Europe, and nearly Canada- a trip cancelled by an uptight Canadian border guard.

That initial East Coast jaunt threw down a gauntlet for standards of high energy performance: blazing from town to town in a van stolen outright from the drummer's mother; leaving a smoldering pile of decimated guitars, drums and keyboards in the wake; and racking up a kamikaze-like tally of hospital visits and general mayhem - all in the hyper-compressed duration of 8 minutes!!! No stage could contain the blisteringly positive frenzy of XBXRX!

Love them or hate them, you'll never forget them. The band has blinded their audiences with racks of colorful flashing lights, bombarded them with balloons and even abandoned the stage to incite dance riots and group hugs in an attempt to make the XBXRX experience something much more than just another show. The band has always sought to erase their individual identities and considers itself a flexible entity whose sum total is greater than the parts. Over the years the band's style of relentlessly joyous musical assault has been championed by many major figures in underground rock - having opened on tours with buddies such as Sonic Youth, Peaches, Unwound, Mr. Quintron, Deerhoof, and Q and Not U as well as having worked with accomplished producers/engineers like Steve Albini, Don Zientara, Ian MacKaye, Vern Rumsey and Tim Kerr.

In addition to their debut full-length 2000 release Gop Ist Minee (5RC/Tapes Records), XBXRX has steadily issued a stunning series of seven inches on labels like GSL, Narnack and others around the world in order to compliment their frequent touring. Through sheer word of mouth alone the band was able to sell astounding numbers of Gop, many of them out of the back of the van after yet another typically insane, smoldering performance.

On the full-length XBXRX record, Sixth in Sixes, the band revealed newly-found musical growth and maturity over the course of 18 succinct and varied tracks. The lyrics and concept of the album deal implicitly with the decline of civilization as predicted by the arcane theory of sixth extinction...the beautiful but annihilating hand of Mother Nature is neigh and the group heralds an apocalyptic vision of distinct power that will surprise new and old fans alike. XBXRX mates a post-hardcore guitar onslaught with articulate experimentation and intense, cathartic vocals to create a relentlessly modern rock music that is as chilling as it is invigorating. Produced by the band in tandem with noise-rock cult hero Weasel Walter, XBXRX stepped vastly forward in fidelity, revealing a finely grained, detailed and emotional wall of sound.

XBXRX continued to progress with their 2007 album, Wars. The album incorporated a wider palette of textures, rhythm and structure as well as gained a newfound clarity in the vocals. The band toured extensively in 2007 throughout the US and Mexico.

In 2007, XBXRX released the instrumental album, Sounds, on Important Records. Known for an intensely high-energy live show, Sounds captures the improvisational elements of XBXRX's instrumentation and presents it in a sonic package of 7 frenzied tracks. Beyond labels of noise-rock and powerful percussion, Sounds presents a cohesive addition to XBXRX's already lauded catalog.

On June 3, 2009, XBXRX released the full-length Un Usper on their official website. The donation based, download only work was both mixed and produced by the band.

Young Digerati

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