Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Album Review - Quasi - American Gong

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
American Gong
***and1/2 out of *****

Quasi has changed up their style, no longer are keys at the forefront of their attack (if they are even present at all), now distortion cruises through the backbone of American Gong which is, at its heart, a guitar rock thumper. Another new flair is having bassist Joanna Bolme join Janet Weiss and Sam Coomes to construct these whacked-out-bluesy distortion-laced-psychedelic-punk-tunes.  A long winded way of saying there is a lot here to take in.

"Repulsion" and "Little White Horse" begin the album by grinding out the dirty guitar shimmy to kick things off with Bolme's bass lines swaggering under the solos.  “Bye Bye Blackbird” is the albums highlight putting the feedback into overdrive as Weiss beats the shit out of the drums, careening the number downwards into darkness under warbling guitars for 6+ minutes of mayhem.  “Don’t Let Them Get You Down” has a piano verse section that finds Coomes crooning in his Doug Martch style to support fallen comrades while “The Jig Is Up” and “Death Is Not The End” are freak-out ditties that unfortunately show the limits of Coomes voice.  “Black Dog and Bubbles” is a soup of metal noise that tastes hearty and the piano rolls out again for "Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler" which closes the disk (I am ignoring the tacked on Dog howling track ridiculousness).

The playing can feel schizophrenic, but things are fresh and listeners never get too comfortable.  Just when the weirdness starts to overwhelm a straight up crusher like “Rockabilly Party” strolls out and you could instantly imagine heads bopping everywhere to its rollicking bass, blazing riffage and perfectly matched Weiss/Coomes vocals.      

American Gong is some damn good rambling/stuttering punk-ish work with a smile that shakes and rolls all over the place at its own drawn out pace.  Weiss's stomp and playing style in particular remains in top gear here, her playing rivals the best rock drummers going today.  While the other projects these members spend their time with get most of the headlines Quasi just seems content to keep slamming out killer albums.     
For more thoughts a bunch of good live video click the read more sucker....

I wrote this review at the beginning of the year and then forgot about it.  I recently have been going back to start to make the fictional "best of 2010 list" in my brain and I found this album.  I went to find the review then realized I never sent it in anywhere...oh well, it will live in the Overload Section.  A couple of years ago I fell in love with Sleater-Kinney, actually it was 2006.  I had heard them in the past and even seen them live back in the late 90's but I was never a massive fan of their sound (could be the whole no bass thing creeping up on me again) but The Woods changed all that, I was simply infatuated with that album (ranking it #39 on the last decades best of list) and still listen to it often.

Janet Weiss is also the kick arse drummer for SK and was super impressed with that album.   You can here the distortion production style seep over into the last two releases from her other project Quasi.  Gone are most of the keys and overloaded guitars take their place...usually a plus in my book and that is the case here. 

Below are some tunes, and I find it interesting (though I didn't write about it) that Weiss and Coomes are ex-husband and wife like Jack and Meg...hmm if Jack and Weiss could get together now THAT would be something.
Here is their best straight up rocker, "Rockabilly Party":
 And some fun Acoustic silliness of that tune:
Amsterdam Acoustics : Quasi - Rockabilly Party from AMSTERDAMACOUSTICS on Vimeo.
 My favorite new tune live "Bye Bye Blackbird"

Quasi - Live at Disjecta - Bye Bye Blackbird from brewcaster on Vimeo.
Another great new one, "Repulsion":

Quasi - Live at Disjecta - Repulsion from brewcaster on Vimeo.

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