by Jeff Milo
Islands are coming to town.
Their latest: Ski Mask (Manqué)
No band is an island. Well, Canadian pop-renegade Nick Thorburn seemingly defies that, as psychedelically-inclined indie outfit Islands, have come to be harder to pin down for some who might find more ease identifying with others slinging instantaneous hit singles.
The talented, progressive pop auteur, albeit wayward, has perhaps made his most cohesive work here, a pretty shoreline splash of warm tones, boogieable tropicalia rhythms, resplendent, rollicking surf-rock guitars and precious, fluttering melodies. You’d barely notice the lyrics lashing the bitterness of a considerably chipped-shoulder. His backing collaborators have shifted over seven years just as his co-opting of variations on genre through five albums; island hopping, really, forcing re-adaptation to new terrain. That’s commendable, but subsequently ensures your footprints lapped away by each outgoing tide. This is the best coconut of their canon to crack open, in terms of instantaneous digestibility; rich, sweet, and a little acidic.
Islands - 10/11 @ The Loving Touch in Ferndale - with Brazos -more info
...That same night, downtown:
Bill Callahan - 10/11 @ Trinosophes in Detroit - with Lonnie Holley - more info
The low, croaky voice of Bill Callahan gives praise in a quiet way like in a far off church (which might be metaphor for a bar,) where he poetically recounts his day, so far, to a tranquilized line-dance beat and a defiantly perky violin pizzicato.
The celebrated provocateur of dark, loopy lo-fi folk-rock (formerly known as Smog) posits that we’re all looking for a means to make one sing, on his opening track here, the 4th proper solo album under his own name, but new ears would find this singing voice to be, well, a blend of nasal and coarse, and yet, if not by his weirdly profound lyrical turns-of-phrase, then by the resplendent musical salve simmering underneath, an orchestral Americana aesthetic, with artfully teased pedal-steels, reverb-sprinkled guitars, decorous flute sighs and, yes, those winking violins lightly whipping along each of these sweet, but significantly subdued nocturnes. After decades spent in the avant-garde underground, Callahan comes to town riding buzz from the New York Times and even Entertainment Weekly, wow. Coarse is cool.
And then on Sunday
Locals - Double Weirdo perform Sunday, Oct 13 at the Lager House (1254 Michigan Ave) with 800-Beloved, Oblisk and Brief Candles - more info
Guitar-centric indie-pop still survives over in Ypsilanti, with local trio Double Weirdo holding true to skittering rhythms on stripped down kits, sweet-and-sour toned riffage that surfs down into to unabashedly new-wave-worn grooves, under a baritone crooner given to flits of arched yowling, a middling of some Bowie with a bit of Ian McCulloch.
The rhythms strut for the coolly spooky verses of “Tame Tame” and start slamming at the choruses, building towards this eruptive guitar statement at the closing bridge – a fuzz pedal is stomped and it’s a stand-out moment of “rock n roll” on this otherwise minimalist debut struck with a subtly-punk-ish-predisposition and romantic for the prettied murk of post-glam and pop-inclined shoegaze, a cathartic little howl to hem up these four nifty little jams.
Have a nice weekend.