Exchanging mix tapes can be fun, especially when it’s with someone other than a girl that makes your pants go all squishy. My friend Rapp* burned a couple of discs for me a few years back as his way of saying that he liked me. Not like-like, but I was still aces in his book. The discs, which I still spin on a regular basis, were packed with all sorts of undiscovered gems like The Unicorns’ album Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone? hands-down the creamiest of the dreamiest, with its playful noodling and discordant dorkiness. The Unicorns at their best created pop music that was simultaneously obnoxious and blissful, run through with the sensibility of a boyhood spent playing with My Little Ponies and drawing swords and rainbows on notebook covers. But then the band split, with little explanation, just as they were on the cusp of somethingness.
Enter Islands, a 7-piece band raised from The Unicorns sparkling ash with two of the former bands members along for the ride. Islands’ Return to the Sea cleans up some of The Unicorns rough edges, making the whole affair easier to swallow. Both outfits seem to have their inspiration planted firmly in an 8-bit nostalgia with most of the albums flourish sounding like the soundtrack to the greatest NES game you never played. Below are some personal favorites from both bands. Dancing and smiles are strongly encouraged.