Friday, December 1st, 2006
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: The Changes
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.
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.