After spending a few years playing in his brother Ed Baluyut's band, Versus
, James Baluyut opted to go solo in 2001.
The project was called Plus/Minus (+/-), and after a whirlwind year of writing and recording material, Baluyut released his first album, Self-Titled Long-Playing Debut Album, on Teenbeat Records in 2002. Baluyut was joined by Margaret McCartney and former Versus
member Patrick Ramos on the album, but by and large it was Baluyut's baby -- he sang the songs, he played the instruments, and he even produced the album. He recruited a couple old friends to fill out Plus/Minus shortly after the first album was released -- Ramos joined the group on guitar and vocals, and Chris Deaner joined on drums. They got to work on some new songs, cobbling together what would become the band's signature synthy, jumpy sound. The group released its first EP, Holding Patterns, in 2004, and followed it up a few months later with its second full-length album, You Are Here. The second full-length marked the crystallization of Plus/Minus's signature blend of dream pop and hyperactive drumming. They went on tour in Japan, necessitating a premature release of their third album, Let's Build a Fire, and they followed it up with performances at SXSW and the Noise Pop festival. Soon after that, they landed a deal with Absolutely Kosher Records, which allowed them to put the finishing touches on their third full-length effort, Let's Build a Fire. It was released in late 2006 and followed two years later by Xs on Your Eyes. A 2009 EP entitled Thrown into the Fire and a few spare compilation tracks would be all the world heard from the band until the release of their 2014 full length Jumping the Tracks. The album found the band back on Teenbeat Records and tended towards a slightly more lushly arranged take on the sound of their older albums, though their signature sound of intermingling wild rhythms and hooky indie rock tunes remained. ~ Margaret Reges