A heavy and spastic electro-ghetto sound has been spreading west from New York City like a tidal wave, forcing everything in its path to dance; and in the process, making me very, very happy.
I first heard Foreign Islands at an after-hours party in Seattle. The kitchen of a duplex apartment had been turned into a dance floor, which had become humid and slick despite the lack of people still dancing when I arrived late. Maybe three or four girls still danced happily, but it was a dying scene.
A friend of mine was spinning records near the backdoor and waved me over to him. He said he’d mostly been spinning dance remixes of old David Bowie songs and Scissor Sisters LP’s. He was pretty drunk and we went out back for some air. Before we left he put the Foreign Islands, We Know You Know It 7” on and we stepped out onto the back porch.
We talked for about a minute when he realized he’d forgotten his lighter inside. We returned to the kitchen, and our jaws dropped. The entire room was dancing in perfect sequence. Girls pulsated against other girls, two guys made out against the refrigerator, people of all genders and preferences grinded up and down each others bodies.
In the span of one minute, this band had transformed an average dance party, in its dwindling embers, into a freak-dancing, make out party.
“Hey man, what record is this?”
“Can I borrow it?”
Despite my friend’s selfishness I couldn’t help but notice that the 7” in question had just saved a dying party, passing what I believe is the most difficult test for a dance album. And the whole way home I kept wondering—who are these…Foreign Islands?
The band has been together since July 2005, forming from the New York hardcore, punk and electronic music scenes. They’ve put out a self-released EP, and followed it with releases on the UK’s Nude Records and the US’s, Deaf, Dumb and Blind Communications.
Restart Now!, the band’s newest album, is a start to finish party. Punk vocals and guitars meet hot dance beats with perfect balance. Playing shows with Lady Sovereign, Les Savy Fav and other emerging talents, Foreign Islands are likely to be performing for larger and larger audiences. So if you can catch them while they’re still packing smaller clubs, do it. Bands like this just don’t translate to gigantic festivals and big arenas.
If you miss them though, you can always throw the record on in your kitchen and see what happens.