On the surface, there’s not a whole lot to the Spinanes–no feedback, no flailing hair, not even a full-fledged band. A slender duo who combined would be barely the size of Meat Loaf, the Spinanes are Rebecca Gates (vocals, guitar) and Scott Plouf (drums). Like many bands today united under the banner Less Is More, the Spinanes strip rock to the bare, white bones: a beat, some chords, and a melody. Sound simple? Maybe even a little dull? It would be but for Gates’s unassumingly lovely voice and demurely ambitious songwriting. On their recent Sub Pop record, Manos, the Spinanes distinguish themselves from their numerous hum-and-strum brethren with tunes that take subtle yet satisfying detours from the beaten path without ever being arty, songs that have both the simplicity and the striking beauty of a Zen rock garden. Don’t let the sparse instrumentation scare you off–Scott Plouf’s impeccable drumming helps flesh out a unique identity for each tune. Alternative rock is plagued with drummers who are no better than bashers or animated metronomes; Plouf, on the other hand, handles his kit as if it were a tuned instrument, deftly coloring each song with the appropriate backbeat, rhythm, and cymbal tone. The Spinanes merger of simplicity with homey sophistication is a rare thing. And a lovely one. They open for Buffalo Tom. Saturday, 7:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield; 472-0449 or 559-1212.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Anne Greenwood.