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Friday, December 1st, 2006

Steal The Blueprints

New York’s +/- (plus minus to their friends) has been getting some internet attention lately, but not necessarily for the right reasons. The brouhaha over their double-Pitchfork review (which Idolator reports on and which their label Absolutely Kosher rebuts) sadly overlooks the fact that their new album, Let’s Build A Fire, is very good no matter what score (or how many of them) the ‘Fork dishes out.

The band, best known as an offshoot of Versus but worthy of note on their own merits, was at Sneaky Dee’s on Wednesday night to promote their third album as well as shoot a video for single “Fadeout”. It seems almost a shame that they’ll likely overdub the live performance with the studio version because as good as their records are, +/- live are exponentially more impressive. While the albums still bear the precise fingerprints of the band’s laptop-rock origins (though less so now than in the past), on stage they’re unbridled and ferocious thanks largely to the unearthly abilities of drummer Chris Deaner. Whether on the acoustic kit or electronic pads (or both simultaneously), he kept the band ultra-tight and propelled James Baluyut and Patrick Ramos’ pop compositions into orbit via a thoroughly impressive show. I’d seen the band a few times in the past, but not in over three years and I’d forgotten how good they are. Shame on me and I won’t make that mistake again.

Accompanying +/- on tour was Chicagoans The Changes, who I hope have a highly developed sense of irony or else they’d take the prize for worst stage banter of the year. “Hello Canada”? No, sorry. Thankfully their musical abilities weren’t nearly as questionable – I quite enjoyed their classic pop sensibilities which reminded me not a little of Voxtrot but with less Smiths-y jangle and more OMD-ish synthery. Definitely of the 80s but thankfully not in a wholly retro way. Their debut album is Today Is Tonight and will be getting a closer listen in the near future.

The third band on the bill was Toronto duo The Sharp Tongues who impress by the simple fact that their drummer is also their bassist (and occasionally their singer), that he is both (or all three) of these things simultaneously and that he actually pulls it off (almost all the time). Handling the drums with both sticks in his right hand and playing bass by hammering-on with his left, Marcus Quin holds down the rhythm while Julia Muth plays guitar and sings, The Sharp Tongues’ surf/garage-adelica was raw and no frills and with a healthy dose of attitude. A little more polish wouldn’t be out of place but definitely enjoyable and fun to watch.

Photos: +/-, The Changes, The Sharp Tongues @ Sneaky Dee’s – November 29, 2006
MP3: +/- – “Steal The Blueprints”
MP3: The Changes – “When I Wake”
MP3: The Changes – “Water Of The Gods”
MP3: The Sharp Tongues – “So Old”
Stream: +/- / Let’s Build A Fire (M3U)
MySpace: +/-
MySpace: The Changes

Venus talks to Colin Meloy of The Decemberists while Stephen Colbert challenges the band to a fight. Of a sort. The Decemberists’ response? Bring it on, bitch.

Ira Kaplan discusses Yo La Tengo’s covers aesthetic with Synthesis.

All anyone wants from My Morning Jacket’s Jim James are lists – Harp asks him his favourite live records, New York Press his favourite concert films and Pitchfork solicits all kinds of inane stuff.

Robert Pollard tells Billboard he’s giving up the touring life to instead concentrate on releasing not one, not two, but SEVEN new albums in 2007.

Mocking Music reports that Camera Obscura will be in Ottawa on January 30 of next year, which means that there’ll be a Toronto date either immediately before or after that date, depending on which direction they’re heading in. As for venue, no idea but I think they’ve outgrown the Horseshoe – perhaps a Mod Club or Lee’s Palace date? You’ll know when I know. And how long has there been a video for “Let’s Get Out Of This Country”? News to me.

Video: Camera Obscura – “Let’s Get Out Of This Country” (MOV)

Oh, and online retailer Zunior.com is giving away a new compilation of Canadian indie goodness every two weeks – grab the current edition here. And in the interests of disclosure, you may note that Zunior is also buying some adspace on chromewaves (grok the button over on the right and down a bit) that will notify/remind you when a new mix is up.

By : Frank Yang at 8:42 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. mike says:

    I read that Camera Obscura info on Mocking Music’s site and was also assuming that the band would be coming back to Toronto also. Crossing my fingers for Lee’s Palace!

  2. Matt says:

    Pitchfork is a waste of time. Their review of Pernice Brothers’ Live a Little is a case in point. Some lit grad school dropout spent more than half of the review trashing "Grudge Fuck (2006)" and throwing out head-scratchers such as "Spectorian bukkake-as-seppuku" (WTF?), essentially declaring the album a bust. Then he gave it a 6.8 (those ludicrous decimal points)! I’m amazed anyone pays attention to what they have to say.

  3. Calum says:

    I’ve heard no word about the Toronto details but there will definitely be one. Full details of the tour will be announced Monday.

    Thanks for the link.

  4. Nik says:

    Geez, 7 albums? I stopped getting all of GBV’s stuff because while a lot of it was great, the quality control started going really downhill. After a while it just feels like prolific for prolific’s sake.

  5. Frank says:

    I was told about the Camera Obscura Toronto show a few weeks ago, but had no window of when it might actually happen – now I know +/- 2 days. Yay.

  6. John says:

    They did a similar thing with Stars’ "Set Yourself On Fire". They gave it something like a 7.8 and then what seemed like weeks later changed it to 8.4, rivaling the score of their previous record.

  7. Dimitri says:

    Hi Frank –

    looks like Midlake are at Lee’s on Feb 12.