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The Music Room, Issue 42

Winter listens: Islands, Rich Aucoin, Rae Spoon, Rihanna and more.

Lots of breakup albums feature raw anger, hurt and regret, but has anyone ever written an opus about denial? Islands frontman Nick Thorburn spends A Sleep & A Forgetting (Anti-) tracing his hazy memories, trying to understand a pain he swears he’s forgotten. Tinged with lush Motown arrangements and indie-pop quirks, songs such as “Can’t Feel My Face” and opener “In A Dream It Seemed Real” revel in the tension between Thorburn’s brave-faced lyrics and sweeping melancholia. A Sleep is Islands’ most personal, relevant album yet.

Toronto band Elliott Brood bills its music as “death country,” but the three-piece’s third full-length is more listenable than ominous. An anthemic album ready-made for road trips, Days Into Years (Paper Bag) ditches the death rattle for palatable CanRock that’s still angry and solipsistic enough to feel sincere. “West End Sky” and “If I Get Old” warn of what will ...

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