Some musicians like to keep things fresh with revolving doors and various memberships in several bands. A few stellar ones have their main band, their solo gig and a few side-projects spinning on the side. And most of the time, they take a steady amount of time off from other projects to focus on one primary one – even if it is temporarily. Well, what about Quasi, a band that for the longest time was solely made up of singer/musician Sam Coomes and drummer Janet Weiss?
Their discography is wide-ranging but they usually don’t venture very far out in terms of tours, publicity or even, developing new sounds. Whatever the case may be, there’s a strong indication that they were well aware of the capability American Gong would present. They have an expansive tour ready, they’ve fully welcomed bassist Joanna Bolme as their third member and with that aforementioned album, they’ve now amassed what is their best album to date. A stunningly rich and sprawling collection of music, it’s confidently secured with strong musicianship and songs that come to life beneath this trio’s masterful hold.
You can click here and read Carrie Brownstein’s genuine gushing on the album or you can very simply, go out, buy it and allow its rewards to come to you. Pushing the boundaries with songs that can rock and shake with focused propulsion or with darkly capered stomps, Quasi, as a band, has never sounded any better. As a songwriter, Coomes’ melodies are still rooted in the blues, with his crooning progressing into something thunderous and at times, gripping. And as for Weiss, well, she’s very frankly an impeccable drummer who adapts to these new changes with calm and ease. Bolme is the anchor; always steady and in full support, but even at just a trio, their mountain of sound beckons for mercy.
Somewhere along the way, there was a decision to indulge possibilities when it came to record American Gong. The lyrics are sharper and far more introspective, the music is on a grander scale, working towards an overwhelming amount of brilliance and radiance and each musician plays a vital role to the entire album’s fruition. The rockabilly comes with roaring heights on “Rockabilly Party” but at the same time, an acoustic guitar and depressing wordplay can just as easily amaze with “The Jig is Up.” It’s not just the fact that the styles are diverse but that they’re performed with fantastic results. And even the smallest texture – like the guitar’s modifications on the latter – will leave you thrilled by the excellent musicians behind it.
Fans could always pinpoint their trademark fixtures: a band that could jam with the best of them, a band that could laugh and joke through their lyrics and a band that could blow you away. And even though those features are still very much prevalent all over American Gong, they’ve been tempered and tailored into something substantially greater. Even when Coomes is declaring for all to “Rise up” on “Now What,” he sounds poised and as believable as he does on the raucous rocker, “Bye Bye Blackbird.” Through his Heatmiser days, there’s even the strong channeling of Elliott Smith on “Everything & Nothing At All,” with its unforgettable piano notes.
These are some remarkably awesome choices and they’ve found a good home on American Gong. It’s about time others got to relish in what Quasi presented and while many still lament the caves of emptiness left with Weiss and Coomes’ defunct bands, there is plenty to fall in love with on here. And trust me, it’s worth it.
“Repulsion” by Quasi