When the Spinanes released their debut album, Manos, in the fall of 1993 people were astonished that only two musicians--singer and guitarist Rebecca Gates and drummer Scott Plouf--could create such a full-bodied, resonant sound. Building upon the duo's remarkably strong hooks, Plouf's playing expanded his drums' rhythmic function to also occupy the middle ground--the heft and power of his work giving plenty of depth to what might otherwise have been too spare. For her part Gates masterfully accented her sweet melodies with thick but unobtrusive textures and subtle harmonic filigree. They pulled off the same feat live over and over again, proving that they hadn't relied on studio trickery. Now they've finally released their long-awaited follow-up, Strand (both of their albums are on Sub Pop). Although the new record sounds stripped down, the instrumentation remains the same. Gates's writing occupies a more subdued, contemplative space on Strand, nicely complementing the predominant theme of nebulous post-breakup reflection. The hard edges like those in their debut are now subsumed by fuzzy contours. Plouf's drums continue to provide unusual textures, but this time he concentrates on quiet cymbal-based scapes while Gates often metes out quiet, hydroplaning drones over top. Her tunefulness hasn't diminished, however; it's just rhapsodic instead of giddy. The Dishes open. Friday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dan Winters.