With such a generic moniker, it'd be easy to confuse Islands with some Jimmy Buffet cover band hailing out of Denver. But there's nothing at all common about this Canadian indie rock unit.

Full of all the acrimony and pretension it could possibly muster, Islands is a haphazard but intriguing collective that specializes in diversity and improbability. Islands' debut, Return to the Sea, was everything a weird pop record should be: whimsical, innocent and a tad frustrating.

Coming from Nicholas Thorburn (aka Nick Diamonds or Nick T.) and Jaime Thompson (aka J'aime Tambeur), both of whom were involved with lo-fi semi-legends The Unicorns, Return to the Sea was an almost logical progression that fused psychedelia with hip-hop and ended up sounding like nothing else but Islands. Higher praise is difficult to come across, but inner turmoil halted the band's momentum: Thompson left the group in 2006, and the following year Islands issued Arm's Way, a slick, serious album that exhibited little of the devil-may-care spirit that made the debut so fascinating. Live, the still-Thompson-less band remains capable of generating a peculiar, fascinating buzz, and newer cuts such as "Creeper" and "Life in Jail" manage to resonate with an over-the-top mentality that both perfectly suits the band and points toward a bright future—sans the significance.


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