Sounds like: Munch’s Make Believe Band after a lengthy tour of Amsterdam.
For fans of: The Unicorns, Arcade Fire, The Beach Boys, Flaming Lips, Weezer.
Latest release: This year’s A Sleep & A Forgetting, a surprisingly serious, seemingly doo-wop-inspired meditation on heartbreak.
Why you care: Well, everybody loved the Unicorns, the Canadian trio that made slap-happy, lo-fi pop less punky but similar in feel to the Thermals’ earliest recordings. Islands, for whatever reason, seems a much more divisive outfit. Initially fueled by two ex-Unicorns—guitarist/vocalist Nick Thorburn and now twice-departed drummer Jamie Thompson—Islands enlisted a host of arty celebrity pals (from bands like Handsome Furs and Arcade Fire) to serve as a junk-store orchestra that backed its bedroom-recorded 2006 debut. In 2008, Arm’s Way moved Islands into “real band” territory, but its scaled-back approach left some fans missing the clatter of its first disc. The synthy Vapours found old Unicorn Thompson back and dabbling in drum machines. New disc A Sleep & A Forgetting is Thorburn’s divorce record, and it’s an incredible bummer, especially when set against the band’s ecstatic early work. Understated and harmony-packed, it’s a lovely disc that seems recorded by some other band. The shock of hearing Thornburn hitting rock bottom is kind of like watching Punch Drunk Love or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Uncomfortable at first, then quite moving.
SEE IT: Islands plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., on Sunday, March 11. 8:30 pm. $15. 21+.