Friday, October 7, 2016

Harvest/Fall Future Islands, Seasons (Waiting On You)

Purchase: Seasons (Waiting On You)

I think a lot of folks came to Future Islands via The Late Show with David Letterman. It was the band’s Late Show debut and they put on a masterful rendition of the hit single, “Seasons (Waiting on You)”—a buoyant, bouncy gem with a church-hymn-worthy chorus and a soaring dance-infused rhythm. I fell in the love with the song, and Letterman, ever a musical enthusiast and never one to shy away from promoting the bands he believed in, did too. But it was more than the song Letterman liked: lead singer and main songwriter Samuel Herring is blessed with many talents, but his peculiar dance moves are more akin to combat defense positions and he cuts quite a figure on stage.

Lettermen went a little nuts for Herring’s bombastic neo-slide moves and the YouTube version of their performance went on the garner millions of views. Views on YouTube have become a strange kind of modern currency, and the more one has, the greater one’s prowess in the modern social media arena. Or something like that—I had a kid in a summer class I taught tell me that he was a “famous YouTuber” and that he made money from having so many subscribers to his channel. I went to his channel and it was pretty much videos of him playing video games and putting his finger in his nose for comedic effect. But, one of those legends along the bottom of the screen did read that he had subscribers in the multi-thousands. And that equates to money? I’m digressing, I know, but, wow—if all it takes to earn cash these days is to put up poorly shit videos of bodily functions and boogers, then I ought to be a freaking mogul…

So, Future Islands, an eclectic, North Carolina born, Baltimore based synth pop band that is very worthy of accepting the throne from former synth-pop greats such as New Order, rose to fame because their incredibly talented singer/songwriter cuts a very strange rug? Yeah, that’s modern music. No need to actually pay attention to the sound itself, the lyrics or the vibe that gets spun by a group of musicians. Nope—just watch the video and click like. It’s a sad kind of world we’ve created, and those of us who remember the world before the internet, lament the state we find ourselves in (even if it’s just a sort of stasis, before we move on to the next fad). It seems sad and a bit incomprehensible to me that we can no longer rely on great music (albums) to be enough if it doesn't come with some strange, and useless viral hype. This applies to new music, I suppose. And, not all of it, I know: I'm generalizing.  But the changes that music industry has undergone are confounding, as well as myriad, and it seems odd to me that a song like Seasons grows a following because of social media, a phenomenon that is a far removed from music as can be...

Seasons is a gorgeous song—there’s no weird dancing in the video, and in the listening, we can judge the band on its true merits. As we should. And we can love the song because we are moved by what counts: melody, beat and soulful expression-what good music is really about.

But, lest you think I’m a grumpy, pessimistic old man (I am, don’t worry), you should know, despite the unwarranted attention Future Islands got due to the goofy dance moves, Seasons went on to be named the best song of 2014 by the Pazz & Jop critics' poll in the Village Voice, Pitchfork Media and Consequence of Sound. (Wikipedia)  

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