Friday, January 20, 2006

Let's Build A (Forest) Fire

plus/minus - 'Let's Build A Fire'[music video]I've been on a little Versus kick as of late and specifically have had their 1999 album "Two Cents Plus Tax" on repeat all week. I can't get enough of pop gems like the sugary indie-rock of "Atomic Kid" and the countrified melodicism of "Spastic Reaction". Versus have always had a knack for keen songwriting, then fleshing out songs with lovely boy/girl vocals, interesting, melodic guitar arrangements and solid backup rock instrumentation. I won't bother getting into band history or discography but if you're interested in reading up on them, start off at this UK fansite, then continue over at Epitonic, Merge Records, and Teenbeat Records. Also, Metro Times Detroit published(on October 10, 2005) a great article on Versus. I've been a fan of them since the mid-90's, intrigued immediately by their music but also for the fact that Versus' Baluyut brothers and I share the same ethnicity(ie. Phillipines). A Versus show was actually my first real 'indie-rock' show I ever went to. I saw Versus in 1995 at the El Mocambo as part of the 'Ear of The Dragon' tour which also included fellow Asian(well more like part-Asian) indie-rockers Seam, Aminiature and Toronto's now defunct Venus Cures All. You can read my review over at Indie List Archives. Yes I've been rocking the indie-rock since the early to mid 90's. (BTW, listen to audio samples from the "Ear of The Dragon" CD compilation.) While Versus are on 'hiatus' for the moment it was nice to see a glimmer of hope when Urban Jetset spoke to Fontaine Toups(in 2005 around the time Versus 'reunited' for the Teenbeat Records 20th anniversary celebrations) and she expressed that Versus might possibly record in the future and even play some shows, just not nearly to the extent as during the band's heyday.

I came across an old article(dated May 2, 1996) about Versus at The Daily of The University of Washington and was surprised to read that at the time bassist Fontaine Toups was 32 years old and singer/guitarist Richard Baluyut was on the cusp of his 30th birthday, which if you do the math, makes them, well older then I thought. I'd never have guessed it at that time. I am glad though that there are still signs of life in the Versus camp. Whysall Lane(Richard's most recent project) will release their long-awaited debut album in February 2006 through Blackball Records. Younger brother, James Balayut's band plus/minus just released their new album "Let's Build A Fire" in Japan/Taiwan on December 14, 2005 and while a US date is unknown, it is thought to be soon. I believe Fontaine Toups is still continuing with her own project The Fontaine Toups, although the band website is currently under contruction and I haven't read any news about them recently. Last heard from Ed Baluyut, Enchante Records(see news update January 2005) said that Ed was busy 'raising kids and writing books'.

marathonpacks has a link to a download of plus/minus' music video for their song "Let's Build A Fire" "Steal The Blueprints".

Listen to samples of Whysall Lane's upcoming album over at Midheaven Mailorder or download an mp3 of their FANTASTIC song "The Way Back" over at their perpetually-under-construction official web site.

Whysall Lane also have a MySpace site where you can hear several streaming tracks.

Listen to samples of plus/minus' album "Let's Build A Fire" over at & Records.

And rounding out my week of Versus, I purchased the vinyl album of Versus' "Hurrah" for 10 bucks yesterday!

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