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In alternative rock, as in any other genre, it's hard to stand out from a crowded field. When the Spinanes emerged in the early '90s, they got a couple legs up on the competition to be different. Taking the power trio format one stage further, they created a full-bodied rock sound with just two members, guitarist/singer Rebecca Gates and drummer Scott Plouf. They were also one of the first Sub Pop bands that did not subscribe to a grungy metallic sound, although they rocked pretty hard.

Beyond these striking characteristics, however, the Spinanes' music wasn't far off the beaten path of standard college radio alternative fare, with droning guitar textures, occasional harmonies, and measured vocals that avoided both slickness and extreme emotion. They were wise enough to realize the limits of their format, and their second album, Strand (1996), expanded their instrumental, production, and songwriting ranges in interesting ways. When Plouf exited the duo after the LP's release, Gates relocated from Seattle to Chicago, where she continued the Spinanes as a solo project, resurfacing in 1998 with the excellent Arches and Aisles. The Imp Years, a much-needed collection of early Spinanes singles, followed in mid-2000.~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi