The 5th Annual Make The World Better Benefit Concert
Secret Special Guest TBA, Strand Of Oaks, Karl Blau (solo)
The years since the release of Singles have been transformative for Future Islands, catapulting the Baltimore-based band from cult favorites to synthpop icons.
As addictive songs like breakout ‘Seasons (Waiting on You)’ turned the world on to sublime pleasures a loyal fan base already knew, this hard-touring band ploughed forward, playing their 1000th show in July 2015 and celebrating their 10th anniversary in February 2016. Now Future Islands returns at the top of their game with new album The Far Field, delivering twelve chest-pounding love songs and odes to theroad as only they can.
The Far Field refines and builds on the breakthroughs of Singles, bursting with undeniable hooks and disarmingly honest lyrics written by Samuel T. Herring (vocals, lyrics), William Cashion (bass, guitars), and Gerrit Welmers (keyboards, programming). The band began writing new material in January 2016 on the coast of North Carolina, and continued throughout the year in Baltimore before road-testing these songs with a series of secret shows under fake names. In November 2016, they settled in with Grammy Award-winning producer John Congleton at Los Angeles’ legendary Sunset Sound, where everyone from The Beach Boys to Prince have laid down masterpieces.
The result is Future Islands’ best set of songs yet, both an emotional summation of the themes they’ve explored over the past decade and a further distillation of their signature art-pop sound. It’s the first Future Islands record featuring live drums by Michael Lowry, who joined the band prior to their viral performance of ‘Seasons’ on Letterman, and whose energy propels the band’s sound to new heights. With Congleton’s production and string and horn arrangements by Patrick McMinn, The Far Field finds Future Islands crafting soundscapes larger and more opulent than ever before, as sonically lush and expansive as they are lyrically raw and direct.
Secret Special Guest TBA
Strand Of Oaks
“When I was writing these songs, every day I would walk on the beach and I was completely alone and overwhelmed by fear…but then I realized how there really aren’t any rules for who you are, who you’ll become, or who you think you need to be. Eraserland is just that. It’s death to ego, and rebirth to anything or anyone you want to be.”
In December 2017, Tim Showalter was uncertain about his next record and the shape it would eventually take. With no new songs written and lacking any clear vision, he was unprepared for the message he would receive from his friend Carl Broemel, the conversation that would follow, and the album that would become Eraserland. Leading off with standout track “Weird Ways” and his powerful declaration of“I don’t feel it anymore,” Eraserland traces Showalter’s evolution from apprehension to creative awakening, carving out a new and compelling future for Strand of Oaks.
“This project seemed to just fall together naturally,” said Broemel, guitarist for My Morning Jacket. “I felt drawn to Tim’s positive energy and his albums…I threw it out there that I’d be happy to help in any way I could with the record.” Broemel quickly reignited Showalter’s interest in what would become Strand of Oaks’ sixth full-length studio release, and within 24 hours, My Morning Jacket members Patrick Hallahan (drums), Bo Koster (keys), and Tom Blankenship(bass)were also on board.
Revived by the support of Broemel and his bandmates, Showalter felt the pressure to deliver songs worthy of musicians he had admired long before and after a 2015 Oaks/MMJ tour. So in February 2018, he spent two weeks alone in Wildwood, New Jersey writing and demoing all of the songs that would eventually comprise Eraserland. And in April, he went into the studio to record with Kevin Ratterman at La La Land Studios in Louisville, Kentucky, and with Broemel, Hallahan, Koster, and Blankenship as his band. Jason Isbell also contributed his Hendrix-esque guitar work to Eraserland, while singer/songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle provided gorgeous vocals. Every song was recorded live, with all musicians playing together in one room and working to bring Showalter’s ideas to fruition. “I remember sitting next to Tim and Kevin listening to the final mixes with tears rolling down my cheeks,” said Hallahan. “From start to finish, this one came from the heart.”
Each song on Eraserland sustains an openness and sensitivity that is enthralling, bolstered by the exceptional musicians there to realize it and rekindle Showalter’s passion for music-making. The album finds Showalter successfully channeling the full spectrum of sounds within the Strand of Oaks discography, from fast, synthy tracks like “Hyperspace Blues” to epic burner “Visions, the gorgeous ballad “Keys,” and his devastating acoustic performance on “Wild and Willing.”But Eraserland also has moments of pure, upbeat exuberance, most notably on“Ruby,” a rollicking, understated anthem driven by buoyant piano and one of Showalter’s most infectious melodies to date. Isbell’s magnificent shredding is showcased on “Moon Landing,” Eraserland’s preeminent off-the-wall groove, while the album’s title track finds Showalter resurrecting his long-dormant alter ego Pope Killdragon for a striking, synth-laden duet with Rundle.
But in many ways, “Forever Chords” is the definitive track on Showalter’s magnum opus, and the manifestation of everything he hoped to achieve on this record and for Strand of Oaks as a whole.“When I finished writing ‘Forever Chords,’ I felt like this is either the last song I ever need to write, or the rebirth of Strand of Oaks.” Poignant and heart-rending, “Forever Chords” gradually builds toward an emotional release rooted in our own universal fears about mortality, personal legacy, and music as a saving force.
But it’s that first Eraserland line, “I don’t feel it anymore,” that sets a stunning precedent for the most affecting and fully-formed album Strand of Oaks has ever released. Because despite whatever doubts or reservations Showalter had going into the process, he crafted a series of songs so perfectly matched to the musicians supporting it, and so emboldened by his own doubts and insecurities, that the result is glittering, powerful, and impassioned, a moving rock and roll saga that feels substantial and deeply satisfying, vulnerable and self-assured.
Karl Blau (solo)
Hailing from north of Seattle in the Skagit Valley, hewn from NW institution, record label known simply as K (Beck, Modest Mouse, Built To Spill, LAKE) – Karl Blau’s music currently releases under the Bella Union, London shield (Father John Misty, Beachhouse, Marissa Nadler, etc, etc), and now Blau resides in Germantown, Philadelphia as late Fall 2018. His last two BU albums – acclaimed country/soul covers produced by Tucker Martine (Laura Veirs, The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket) known as “Introducing Karl Blau,” and the twin sister to Matthew E. White’s “Big Inner” called “Out Her Space”– have continued the legacy of Blau’s genre-hopping and led Blau to multiple EU/UK and US tours.