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ISLANDS

Crossover Prog • Canada


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Islands biography
Canadian outfit ISLANDS were formed in 2005, and may be regarded as the creative vehicle of band leader Nicholas Thorburn. Their initial effort, Return to the Sea, was released in April 2006, and featured numerous guest appearances by other artists.

Following extended live performances supporting the album, Islands hit the studio again in early 2008, and in May the same year the sophomore effort Arm's Way was released. This production saw Islands evolving the indie based stylistic expression featured on their debut album into art rock territories, to the extent that many would describe this effort as progressive rock.

Following the support dates promoting this sophomore effort, Thorburn reassembled Islands almost completely, and when the third album Vapours appeared in September 2009 this line-up alteration was noticeable on a musical level as well, as this latest album saw Islands exploring a type of music that was much closer to mainstream pop music, leaving behind much of their initial indie rock traits and almost all art rock tendencies featured on their second venture.

Their inclusion into the database of www.progarchives.com is due to the material explored on their second production Arm's Way, which is a surprising but welcome progressive rock creation made by a band otherwise better known for their endeavours in mainstream oriented territories.

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ISLANDS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ISLANDS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.05 | 2 ratings
Return to the Sea
2006
2.50 | 2 ratings
Arm's Way
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Vapours
2009
2.33 | 3 ratings
A Sleep & A Forgetting
2012

ISLANDS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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ISLANDS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Arm's Way by ISLANDS album cover Studio Album, 2008
2.50 | 2 ratings

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Arm's Way
Islands Crossover Prog

Review by TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Following up their debut, Islands changed their sound quite a significant amount. There are a lot more verse/chorus bits here, and a lot more sing-along choruses (but not in an AOR so much as that quirky way indie rock bands have). The Arm, Kids Don't Know Shit, and I Feel Evil Creeping In are each excellent examples of this.

Interestingly, this is the album that earned Islands their place here in Progarchives. To me, it is their debut album that is their proggiest, although I understand why this one got them included here. There is a bit of maturity here, and the addition of violins, that gives the music here a more distinctly symphonic texture here as opposed to their very indie-sounding debut.

The songs here are tighter and more consistent than they were on the debut, which is both a blessing and a curse. This album is imminently listenable, and from the first listen I've had these songs stuck in my head. I've listened to this album three times in the past day simply because the music will not leave my head. However, this sheen makes the album a bit less adventurous than their debut, which switched from extended psychedelic to odd instrumental to a piece with rap in the middle to folk, yet all staying within a recognisable sound. Here the band explores less different avenues of their sound, and so when you reach I Feel Evil Creeping In, it doesn't feel like you've gone that far from Life In Jail.

The album does end on a superb piece of music, Vertigo, the "epic" on this album, which while still very much in the mould of this album does offer more time for the instruments to build up texture and atmosphere, and does take the sound further than any other track.

Overall an enjoyable, light listen that entertains but does not hit very deep.

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 Return to the Sea by ISLANDS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Return to the Sea
Islands Crossover Prog

Review by TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Islands debut album was a charming, if uneven, release of indie/psychadelic music with a pop edge. The band was formed from the ashes of a band called The Unicorns, and although I am not at all familiar with that band, I hear that this is the album that most closely resembles them.

There are a lot of really interesting tracks on this album. My favorites would be Swans (Life After Death), Rough Gem, and Tsuxiit - which, if you check the track listing, you will see is fairly front loaded. Each of these tracks has something unique about it. Swans is the most psychadelic sounding, with acoustic guitars, odd keyboards, and the strangely relaxing vocals (with lines like "I woke up thirsty the day I died") all create a song that is a small trip in and of itself. Rough Gem is just plain catchy, and Tsuxiit is a really odd sound collage composed mostly of synthetic sounds.

The mix of different sounds doesn't end there; the rap-like vocals of Where There's a Will, There's a Whalebone work strangely well, and the doomsday-esque intro to Volcanoes gives the song a fair amount of character.

Where the album suffers is from the moments where the band didn't seem to find the creative groove that makes the previously mentioned tracks so enjoyable. The rest of the album sits somewhere between decent to boring indie pop (to my ears), and really brings down the overall score of the album.

Regardless, this album is worth a listen for the tracks that are more creative, especially if you are also a fan of the indie/pop scene, as this album (to my ears) represents a pretty good crossover between that scene and the prog scene.

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 Arm's Way by ISLANDS album cover Studio Album, 2008
2.50 | 2 ratings

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Arm's Way
Islands Crossover Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

3 stars The more I listen to this album, the less I like it, although I do see why they are included here. The music is slick, well played pop, with a few nods toward prog and psychedelic. But what brings them down, to my ears, is a sound that usually invokes Duran Duran or Coldplay.

The best, and proggiest, songs are Abominable Snow a fine homage to Sasquatch, and Vertigo (If It's a Crime), which ends the album on a proper note. But too much of this album just doesn't draw me in, leaving me that that old Duran Duran feeling.

2.5 stars, rounded up.

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