Islands

With Blueprint and Sister Suvi. Sunday, October 15, at the Grog Shop.

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Islands
This six-piece Montreal art-pop troupe -- led by brooding singer-songwriter Nick Diamonds -- fashions quirky rock arrangements that sound like something from Paul Simon ("Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby"), Super Furry Animals ("Rough Gem"), and the Unicorns, Diamonds' now-defunct former bandmates. Diamonds frowns on such comparisons. "I really stopped thinking about all that -- the connections and differences -- especially when it comes to the Unicorns," he says while on tour in Toronto.

The band's music -- drawn primarily from 2006's debut LP, Return to the Sea -- is a great collection of oddball indie pop, mixing influences as diverse as hip-hop and calypso. Yet Diamonds grows weary of these sweet sounds. "I've since disowned the pop genre," he says. "I still want to write songs that are good, but I'm less concerned with being a populist. Not that I am disowning this record, but my mind is just in a really different space now."

That new space is rock and roll, so expect the sextet's live show to wield a sharper edge, with extensive instrumentation that includes guitar, drums, keyboard, clarinet, oboe, recorder, violin, and viola. "[The new songs] are a lot heavier in a rock sense and also in a lyrical sense," says Diamonds.

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