Two new singles, plus a brand-new singles collection that finally gets all of our official single releases in one place. Happy holidays!


Dirty Jerz Tonite

We’re heading down to Princeton U tonite and playing the Terrace Club, midnite set! This will probably be our last show for awhile. Going to take some time off to write new songs and material.

There are only a few CD copies left of our self-titled album. Pick one up before they sell out!


Our tour earlier this month was a success and a lot of fun! Thanks to everyone who came out and supported us!!!

We are back in NYC and we are playing a very special show on Saturday, July 28th!

It’s time to party at Coney Island! Come join us for drinks, surf and sand, followed by a set of Magnetic Island music at The Freak Bar! We’ll be gathering down at the beach at 5p, and music starts at 7:30. The show is FREE, as are the waves and the sun!

Please join us for this very special show, and let’s have a great time hanging out and enjoying the height of summer! We’ll be debuting a bunch of new tunes, too!

Official Coney Island “What to Bring” checklist:

Bathing suit (you can change there!)
Beach towel
Flip flops
Paddleballs, footballs, frisbees
Beach book
Water bottle

Lisa, Sue, Justin, Dom

Summer Tour Part 1

We’re going on tour to the Northeast this summer. See you soon!

Saturday, June 30th at  The Flywheel w/ Hilly Eye [Northampton, MA]

Sunday, July 1st at 119 Gallery [Lowell, MA]

Monday, July 2nd at PA’s Lounge [Boston, MA]

Tuesday, July 3rd at Bayside Bowl [Portland, ME]

Thursday, July 5th at ROTA Gallery [Plattsburgh, NY]

Friday, July 6th at The Lounge at BSP [Kingston, NY]

Saturday, July 7th at Black Oak Tavern [Oneonta, NY]

New single

We just put out a new single for free download: our cover of “Headache For Michelle (12″ Version)” by the Au Pairs. It’s dedicated to Iain P., a fan from England who was the inspiration for us doing this. If you don’t know the Au Pairs yet, they are very much worth your while.

Our cover puts a high-intensity guitar up against the original’s super slinky bass line, creating a stark contrast to the minimalist, suggestive Au Pairs version.

Hear our take on SoundCloud right now:

Then, check out the original here:

Our debut LP has arrived!

Hear the new album in its entirety here:

Magnetic Island’s debut LP “Magnetic Island”: Call it scene one, take two.

When Magnetic Island emerged last year from the remnants of Renminbi with a flurry of new recordings, they sounded like a band that was still sorting through the rubble of their old ideas and processes. On various singles and the Out at Sea EP, the re-christened band experimented with new textures and arrangements but hewed closely to the Renminbi sound: an economical, recorded-live sound, with clear guitar front and center. These early recordings were gradual, cautious and exploratory. Their trajectory was uncharted.

With “Magnetic Island,” it’s anything but.

For all of its openness to collaboration and to breaking apart the insular format of a rock and roll band, Magnetic Island has always had one woman steering it. Guitarist Lisa Liu is, and has been, undeniably the creative force behind the group, with keyboardist SMV and the band’s drummers following her lead.

So when Liu found herself with a handful of new, very personal songs written by the middle of 2011, she thought: What would happen if I just made an album myself?

What happened, in short, was a record that proved a defining moment for Magnetic Island.

“Magnetic Island” pairs the band’s familiar grandiose structures with a newly baroque focus on layered arrangements, most of them the solo work of Liu, who not only learned to play drums, but also scored all of her intricate guitar parts in preparation for the recording. The result is the same ambitious musical arc fans have come to expect from Magnetic Island, but with a new-found intimacy — a pulsating warmth lent by the one-woman focus.

The fact that the tracking of the album in rural Vermont was loudly interrupted when Hurricane Ireneʼs floods knocked out power and devastated the surrounding area may have had something to do with it, too. Liu recalls the scenario as both “amazing and harrowing,” leaving the band alone to reflect for almost six days as they waited for the lights to come back on.

The singular intensity and awe engendered by that experience comes through in the music. Would-be single and album opener “Don’t Need It Now” pairs intertwining guitar lines and vocal melodies that rise and fall against one another, creating an exhilarating tension that mirrors the lyrical tug-of-war between hanging on and letting go. “In Theory,” anchored by the narratorʼs matter-of-fact declaration, “I have no fixed plans / except with you,” has a more menacing energy that blends the ragged force of Deerhunter with the dreamy longing of Beach House.

The stunning, understated “Acadia” is marked by the kind of muted, wintry tone that would fit it well onto Sonic Youth’s “A Thousand Leaves” or a Mt. Eerie album, while “Morning Feedback” bears the sort of dark restraint and affected laziness that might come from an unlikely collaboration between Radiohead and Wild Flag. “Second Hand” closes the album with a simple, end-of-the-night sendoff — a la Velvet Underground’s “After Hours” — that links hazy singing with a bright, frayed guitar hook.

In all, itʼs a remarkable set of songs that proclaims, boldly and clearly, the essence of this innovative project and firmly secures Magnetic Islandʼs place on the map. –Sam Schulz

Check out the new album now:

Where the hell is Magnetic Island?

Well, the actual land mass is off the coast of Australia, to be exact. But the band that goes by the same name has over the past several months been tucked away in one of two places: Brooklyn, NY or Athens, VT.

The former is where the core group that’s been working on the new MI long-player has been putting together demos, practicing parts and writing lyrics. The latter is where that same core group recently recorded 8 of the album’s new songs – during a stretch of time that was loudly punctuated by someone named Irene.

Despite the disruption, we managed to finish most of what we had originally set out to do in Athens. Mixing got nixed, though, and ended up taking three times as long as it should have when it became a long-distance email tennis match.

Some point thereafter, the decision was made that we needed to return to VT a second time to add the two final songs the album was always meant to have. (We thought for a while that maybe those last two could be recorded back in Kings County, but we realized we’d be doing them a disservice. Pete Weiss and his lovely Verdant Studio had suited us too well to take any of these tracks elsewhere.)

All this said, the Fall 2011 release deadline we had given ourselves had, inevitably, to be pushed back. So, ladies and gents, you can now look forward to Magnetic Island’s debut LP arriving on January 17, 2012.

In the meantime, we will whet your appetites with the release of not one, not two, not three, but four (!) singles between now and release day (to be fair, two of them will only be available as part of an album pre-order). Stay tuned for announcements on our Facebook and Twitter.

Oh, and that aforementioned pre-order delivers all sorts of exclusive content for the early adopters out there, going well beyond MP3s. It is live now on our Bandcamp and our Facebook!

We thank you for your patience, and hope the Keyboard EP has been sufficient to tide you over these last few months. Maybe we can ask you about it in the Spring, when we plan to hit the road for a good stretch to bring you everything we’ve been working on in 2011.


So, yeah, we haven’t done much in the way of updates around here lately. But stuff has definitely been happening.

Actually, 2011 has so far proven to be an extremely productive, even prolific, time for us. We’ve been collaborating with a bunch of new folks — drummers, guitarists, multi-instrumentalists — but also trying to improve our level of self-sufficiency. The two songs we’ve released so far this year — one a demo called “The Space,” the other a single called “Wish I Knew” — go a long way toward demonstrating this latter endeavor. Both tracks feature only one of us, doing everything: drums, keyboard, guitar, programming, recording, mixing.

Being that we’d never seriously attempted playing the drums prior to January, and had previously done only the most crude home recording, achieving these things felt like a big deal.

We’ve said all along that Magnetic Island was created out of a desire to keep pushing ourselves. We know a lot of people will write that sentiment off as any number of things: corny, a cop-out, pretentious, etc. We don’t say it for any other reason than to tell you what keeps us going. The outcomes are unpredictable, and may not always be what you  — or even we — would expect. But we’re not in this for any other reason than to express where we are at the moment the song is written, and to explore the boundaries of what’s possible working in a bedroom with a laptop, or in a cramped rehearsal space with a friend, or at a college campus pub without a setlist or a script.

So, we’ll continue doing it. We love that so many of you have been willing to come along for the ride, and we hope you’ll stick with us. We may not always remember to write, but we’re working our asses off, we promise. Here’s what you can expect from us in the next few months:

  • New EP at the end of June, to be called “The Keyboard EP” after the fact that keyboard will be featured as the lead instrument, a change from what we’ve generally done in the past. “Wish I Knew” comes from this.
  • Our debut full-length in the Fall. Will likely be self-titled. “The Space” comes from this.
  • More singles/demos/live recordings, as often as possible. We remain dedicated to getting songs out as soon as we can and keeping you guys in the loop as to what the hell we’re up to musically.
  • A remix contest. Details soon.

So, there you go. That’s what 2011 has been, and will be, for MI. If you want to hear from us more often, you can follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook, or you can join our email list by sending us a note at

As ever, we thank you for your support.

Magnetic Island

Let’s go to the cassette tape…

A lot of people have asked us why we’re choosing to release “Out at Sea” on tape, as opposed to the ubiquitous CD or the audiophile-prefrerred vinyl.

There are a myriad of reasons. First and foremost: we really like cassettes. Although CDs came into common use by the time we were in middle school, CD-Rs lagged behind by several years. This meant music was still traded and shared via cassette for most of our adolescence. There were so many great fringe benefits, too: Tapes are small, light and easier to transport than vinyl or CDs, so they made great companions for road trips. We also loved taping our favorite songs off the radio. And we loved making mix tapes (who didn’t?). CD mixes (and today’s MP3 mixes) never quite felt the same. Not to mention all those times we agonized over whether to “upgrade” a seminal release to CD, only to find we preferred the warmth and worn-in feeling of our original tape copy.

Then there’s the fact that we printed the digital mixes of “Out at Sea” to two-inch tape, something we’d never done before. The experience reminded us of the unique quality of tape, how it lends its own personality to music. We came to feel that delivering these songs to listeners through that same medium would be the best way to preserve what we were hearing in the studio. Plus, the four songs that are included on this EP naturally grouped themselves together in pairs — two louder/rougher-edged tracks, two quieter/gentler tracks. Having an A side/B side split as allowed by tape seemed like the right way to present them.

And as a 100% self-funded operation, it doesn’t hurt that tape is also economical. Vinyl is wonderful, but insanely expensive for short-runs. And that means we have to charge our fans a lot more for it. Tape keeps costs down for us — which ultimately allows us to make more music — and it keeps costs down for the fans who want to own something more than zeros and ones.

Lastly, at this point in time, cassettes just feel special. Of the few remaining record stores here in the U.S., only a small percentage carry tapes. But yet so many of our friends and acquaintances prize their tape collections, refusing — move after move — to give them up. They bond us to our childhoods, and to each other. The feeling we get from sharing and collecting tapes is exactly what we wanted “Out at Sea” to feel like — warm, human, special.

And that brings us to our new record label, Disregard Records, which will have its focus on tape and digital releases. With the economic advantages both tape and digital provide, we’ll be able to put out a steady stream of material, both our own and that of other bands and artists we believe in. And like Magnetic Island itself, the label will be run collaboratively, with input from the artists who become part of the Disregard family.

We’ll talk more about why we chose to name the label Disregard Records in a future post….

New website, new EP, new beginnings…

Earlier this year, we formed Magnetic Island as an outlet for the collaborative work we’d been wanting to do with friends, acquaintances and musicians we’ve admired from afar. The goal is to get a bunch of personalities in a room and see what comes out after first improvising, then refining, and lastly recording sounds. The group will be ever-shifting in its membership and identity, although one constant guiding principle will thread through: keep experimenting! Unusual instrumentation or vocal lines or time signature shifts — whatever, just as long as everything feels necessary.

Also, we’ll make music available frequently, instead of letting it sit on a shelf for six months or a year. Create the song, get it recorded, share it. That will mean, mostly, an emphasis on singles and EPs. Even if a lot of people are still working under the misapprehension that it’s only the full-length that matters.*

We’re throwing out whatever “rulebook” supposedly exists; music was never meant to be written according to rules, and it shouldn’t be shared or written about according to rules, either.

We’ve put out two singles and a demo so far, and our debut EP arrives Sept. 21 on a label that is also being run collaboratively, Disregard Records [more about this in a future post]. The singles and demo are available as free downloads. The EP will be available as a download and on limited edition cassette tape. We’ll share more about why we chose tape for this release in another post soon.

In the meantime, check out the new website, listen to the tunes, and drop us a line if you have questions or comments: magisland @

*This isn’t meant to imply that the full-length album isn’t still a legitimate means of sharing music (it would be hard to tally how many long-players have made a lasting impact on our lives) — just that it isn’t the only one.