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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Future Islands

NoonChorus / Online / Music

In 2014, David Letterman hosted a little known pop trio from Baltimore on his late night show. Frontman Samuel T. Herring, short, squat, semi-bald, looked more like a Sopranos supporting character than an indie-band leader. Bobbing and weaving across the stage, he sang the synthy and sad “Seasons (Waitin’ on You)” with captivating seriousness. The four-minute clip went viral, and the unknown breakup tune became a breakout hit—Bono raved about it in his Rolling Stone cover story; Debbie Harry reached out to the group and ultimately sang a duet with Herring. Future Islands is now a mainstay of indie pop, turning out singles that are as sweet and sorrowful as “Seasons” but with new melodic edges and lyrical themes, a sound that builds on their first hit without sticking them in the lost land of one hit wonders. The group’s first show of 2020 streams live from its hometown. —C.J.F.

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