Islands in the stream; the Apple machine

Boasting a drummer who can simultaneously sing, drum, and play keyboard, a bass player who just recently learned how to play but who already has a sense of melody and rhythm reminiscent of Sir Paul, and a guitarist who tastefully textures his band's pop gems with a gentle twang, the local co-ed trio HATS AND GLASSES are a band to keep an eye on. They're opening for ISLANDS, the new outfit formed by two-thirds of the celebrated but short-lived Montreal group the Unicorns. Islands' debut, Return to the Sea, is more ambitious, more mature, and just plain better than their old band's lone full-length, and we've been looking forward to them since Simple Mission debuted the mp3s this summer. The album isn't due till spring, but you can get a sneak peek tonight at the YWCA, 7 Temple St, Cambridge 7 pm $9 617.935.3499.

LISTEN: Islands, "Flesh" (mp3)
LISTEN: Islands, "Abominable Snow" (mp3)

Until recently, FIONA APPLE was best known as the scantily clad 19-year-old waif crawling around a bathroom floor in the video for her first single (1997's "Criminal"). She has built up a rabid cult following, however, and when word got out that Dr. Dre's right-hand-man, Mike Elizando, was being hired to rework her ambitious new Extraordinary Machine (the original Jon Brion-produced version had leaked on-line), fans came out of the woodwork to protest. Still, the "new" EM sounds a lot like the old and has been lavishly praised by fans and critics alike. So all's well that ends well. She's at the Orpheum, 1 Hamilton Place, Boston 7:30 pm $35-$40 617.931.2000.
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