When they debuted at the International Pop Underground Convention in Olympia, Washington, in 1991, the Spinanes embodied the fresh promise of indie pop. Portland natives Rebecca Gates (guitar and vocals) and Scott Plouf (drums) played ingratiatingly tuneful, bedroom-bred guitar pop; their early sets included a song about having a crush on Jad Fair and a catchy instrumental called "I ª That Party With the Monkey Kitty." But before long the genre's dear-diary cuteness and self-effacing simplicity felt like cliches, and the Spinanes started to chafe at them: onstage they put out so much sound it was hard to believe it came from only two people, and their second album, Strand (Sub Pop), confounded the stripped-down indie-pop production aesthetic with layers of extra instruments and slowed-down drum tracks. In 1996 Plouf left the band to drum for Built to Spill, and Gates subsequently moved to Chicago; she's since played plenty of acoustic solo concerts under her own name, but she's never stopped being a Spinane. On the "group's" third LP, Arches and Aisles, Gates has enlisted a varied crew of engineers and hired guns: local double bassist Josh Abrams lends a subtle swing to the jazzy ballad "Heisman Stance"; John McEntire re-creates the Sea and Cake's loping groove on "Reach v. Speed," a duet between Gates and the Cake's Sam Prekop; and on "Greetings From the Sugar Lick," the wedding of Memphis producer Doug Easley's churchy organ and Gates's lacerating lyrics recalls the corrosive blend of boy-girl postmortems and vintage R & B that Elvis Costello & the Attractions perfected on Get Happy!! and Trust. For the first Spinanes tour in two years, Gates has assembled a three-piece backing band that includes Chisel's Ted Leo on bass and guitar, Helium road keyboardist Kendall Meade, and All-Scars drummer Jerry Busher. Show up early for a solo set by Prekop, who will play a mix of Sea and Cake material and songs from a solo album he's currently recording with Jim O'Rourke. Friday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. Friday at 4:30 PM the Spinanes play a free in-store at Reckless Records' new Wicker Park location, 1532 N. Milwaukee; 773-235-3727. Bill Meyer
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Marina Chavez.