The New Quasi Album Is Immense!

Before I put this blog on a brief hiatus, I want to mention how much I love the new Quasi album, American Gong, which comes out today on Kill Rock Stars. I wrote the one-sheet bio that accompanies press copies of the band's album, and in lieu of a review, I'll share parts of it here with you:

Quasi flings words and notes relentlessly, hurling music across the stage like grenades. It is explosive and electrifying. Sam Coomes devours his instruments, whether it is keyboard or guitar, fusing melody and mayhem. His voice can go from deadpan to caterwauling, from a lovely lilt to a sardonic sting. Janet Weiss is the avalanche (earthquake? tsunami? volcano?) of drummers. Really, just step aside and make a soft landing for your jaw, because it's very likely to drop. Plus, Weiss can sing, which means that Quasi has harmonies; they hint at sweetness, settling into the halcyon moment for a while, before you realize that the words conjure a creeping sense of unease.

Quasi's songs teeter between optimism and despair, fantastical journeys and harsh realism; this is a pop band for people who like their pop throttled. Coomes, Weiss and Joanna Bolme (of Stephen Malkmus + The Jicks; she joined the band on bass in 2006) are consummate players who let go of the reins to let the wildness accumulate — who space out and make the music disintegrate, blur and tumble before it falls back into the groove. Their playing is proficiently, seamlessly ragged.

Quasi's new album, American Gong, is still ringing in my ears. And by ringing, I mean that it's obliterated and unstuffed the cushiony music that's been singing me to sleep for the past few years. Personally, I'm well rested and ready to move on. American Gong signals that the musical group hug we've been stuck in for a while is over. Gong lurches and veers; it reels, resets, crawls and moans. But the album also professes beauty; it surfaces from the murkiness and soars. In the midst of this awesome sonic storm are expertly crafted compositions and arrangements, gravel and grime-coated rock, psych and pop tunes that never lose their shine.

Listen to "Repulsion," listen to "Little White Horse," listen to "Bye Bye Blackbird." Wait! Listen to the whole thing. "Black Dogs and Bubbles." Yes! Yeah! Yay! Words just seem silly compared to the feeling of wanting to jump around.

"Little White Horse":

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"Bye Bye Blackbird":

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Let me end by saying that Quasi is a stellar and inventive band. On American Gong, it sounds inspired, happy to be playing, even joyful. I think kids will discover Quasi for the first time on American Gong; longtime fans will wonder where all the time has gone and be thankful that Quasi is still around to provide the unofficial soundtrack to our hopelessly hopeful lives. Rise up!

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