"This record still has a piece of my heart. M is one of my favourite songs of all time. And has one of my favourite opening lines of all time, which to me as a songwriter, the most important thing is that first line."
Samuel T. Herring
Photos by James George Potter
We're here for the long run with Baltimore alt-pop group Future Islands, a band that continue to craft compelling hits, sweeping us up in their particularly romantic brand of synth-pop.
Releasing in late January of 2024, the quintet's seventh album People Who Aren't There Anymore has a timely arrival, ten years on from the band's viral moment on The Late Show With David Letterman, which fully established their evocative style with their poignant performance of 2014 track Seasons. The band's latest offering operates in the same impassioned territory, where their sound best thrives, landing anthemic choruses amongst bright melodies, elation tinged with heartbreak. Inspired by a breakup, loss, the past and fleeting moments, the album is underpinned by existential yearning, elevated by shimmering synths and 80s bass lines, delivering a happy-sadness wherein lies its magnetism.
Future Islands are Gerrit Welmers, William Cashion, Samuel T. Herring and Michael Lowry. We were lucky enough to have all four of the accomplished group down to Rough Trade East, the week following their album release.
John Coltrane, Cafe Exil, The Cure and taking ice baths to Aphex Twin, Future Islands share some classic favourites, creative inspirations and the artist's soundtracking their day-to-day.
Sam: This record I've chosen, this one of my heart records. This is the John Coltrane Quartet album, Ballads. If you want to know the sound of my heart, this is it. It's a slow-burning, just gorgeous record. And it's been with me since I was about 15 or 16, when I found it on cassette tape. Then it's lived in my car and in all my houses for many years. I have bought this record so many times to give away to friends. It cannot live in record stores, it needs to live in people's homes. That's my record.
William: I chose Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 85 to 92. Just a classic record that I love. I discovered this when I was in high school, and I've been coming back to this record regularly ever since. Even at our shows recently we've been just playing a mix of Aphex Twin stuff when the doors open because we can't think of what else to play. Side A, Xtal, Tha, Pulsewidth and Ageispolis. Amazing tracks. A classic, perfect a-side. Also great to take an ice bath to. So check it out if you haven't heard it.
Mike: The record I chose is Cafe Exil. It's New Adventures in European Music 1972 to 1980. The reason I chose this is because, on side four of this record, they have the track Don't You Know track by the Jon Hamer Group. When we were all in lockdown I just listened to that song like on repeat. It also features Piero Umiliani, I'm a big fan of all of his work. The Way Star song by the group Rubba, I just got turned onto it recently. The music on this record is all super vibey and just a great soundtrack to you know, a day at home, doing stuff around your house.
Gerrit: I have picked Mort Garson's Journey To The Moon and Beyond. I haven't actually heard this record but I am a fan of Mort Garson. A lot of people know Mort Garson because of Mother Earth's Plantasia but this looks like it's a collection of all these unreleased tracks. So yeah, super excited to listen to it.
Toshiko Yonekawa, Contemporary Sound Orchestra, Kiyoshi Yamaya - Tapestry: Koto and the Occident Sea
William: This is a record about the sea, or you know, inspired by the sea. It's all instrumental focusing on the Koto (one of the main instruments of Japanese traditional music). I like to listen to records mostly when I paint, and I will find instrumental records especially. This seems like a perfect soundtrack for painting, which is why I chose this.
Sam: The record we shared as a group is The Cure, 17 Seconds. Their second album. This was definitely something that William shared with me when I was an 18-year-old kid. I didn't really know The Cure at all, but we were all starting to share things.
There is a song of ours called Hit The Coast off our sixth album, As Long As You Are. I talk about this tape that is turned to static, and you know, it's all I could listen to. The tape that I'm referring to, there are no other clues in the song as to what it is, but it is The Cure's 17 seconds, which was with me on this particular day that I'm writing about. There was a part in the tape, that was burnt out. I would listen through it, I can't remember what part of the song but there was a bit that would just go: "wowowowow" [makes distortion noise] and then go back up. And it just became a part of how I hear this album. Because of that tape which live with me for so long. But this record still has a piece of my heart. M is one of my favourite songs of all time. And has one of my favourite opening lines of all time, which to me as a songwriter, the most important thing is that first line.
William: This here is a classic record. Simon Gallup is one of my favourite bassists and his bass playing is great, he's killing it on this album. I just love the atmosphere. I love how there are a couple of instrumental tracks on this record. It kind of does a similar thing, that Brian Eno's Another Green World does. It feels like it just flows, and really creates an atmosphere and a mood. I think these instrumental tracks really help create that atmosphere. There's something mysterious about this record that I don't really understand but I've always loved it. Classic.
Mike: Yeah, I mean this is just a staple record. To my development as a person and a musician. It was the soundtrack that made up my early teenage, angsty years, and the late 80s and early 90s. I just can't look at any one of those songs and not immediately be transported back to like, eighth grade, you know, and my misfit years. This was part of the like, rich tapestry that kind of made me feel not as weird and as alone as I felt. A Forest is my favourite song off this record. I then played in a band that covered that song and it's just one of my all-time favourites, for dislike how sparse and moody and evocative it is. This record is so nostalgic for me, it just really, really takes me back.
Gerrit: Great record. A Forest is also one of my favourite The Cure songs. I think this album, just sonically sounds great. Aside from having all these good songs, I think it just sonically is a wonderful-sounding record.