About a month or so ago, I had a discussion with fellow blogger Danica Piche over at Living a Beautiful Life about Bob Dylan in the comment sections of one our posts and she asked me which bands I had gained a better appreciation for after seeing them live. At the time, I mentioned Cake as the first band that came to mind (Don’t laugh. They put on a great show.) but said there were certainly many others. After further reflection, Baltimore-based synthpop trio, Future Islands would be an even better example.
I came upon their work rather haphazardly with their 2010 sophomore album, “in evening air”, finding it a rather fascinating sound. I remember describing it to friends as ‘Tom Waits gone synth pop’. Then, I paid them only mild attention through the release of another album (2011’s “On the water”) before they released their critically acclaimed fourth album, “Singles”, in 2014. But it wasn’t until I saw them perform live a year later at Ottawa Bluesfest that I really ‘got’ them. Frontman, Samuel T Herring really puts everything he has into his performance. It’s all passion and raw energy, as if each show he performed was the one he wanted to be remembered for. And that night, the skies unleashed a torrent of rain during their set but the band refused to concede to it, as long as the crowd was willing to dance. I went home afterwards and immediately put on their album, even before peeling off my soaked clothing, and you can bet it sounded different to me.
“Walking through that door” is one of my first run ins with the band, being the first track off their 2010 album. It was one of the few tracks that has stuck with me from the beginning and was a revelation performed live. The heavy bass drum machine that provides the song’s backbone becomes fireworks at the hands of the touring drummer. The squealing organ synths dances through your soul, never minding any such door. And Herring, whose growl in the recording can be heard just treading water above the synths, is a force when live, the man kneeling and pleading, banging his fists on his chest, urging the listener to stay with him, through sunshine and rain, through happiness and pain. The frontman leaves the stage every night soaked in sweat, voice raw, and exhausted, giving us his all. And if you listen to this song closely enough, I’m sure as hell that you can hear it.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.