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American Gong (Bonus Version)

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Album Review

Changes are afoot on Quasi's seventh album, American Gong. First off is the addition of Joanna Bolme on bass and vocals, but more important is the change in their sound. Up until this, the group was built mostly around keyboards and drums with the vocals of Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss intertwining over the top. As American Gong opens with the songs "Repulsion" and "Little White Horse," the sound of the band is a swirling mess of overloaded guitars, keys, bass, drums, and voices rushing by on a wave of fiery noise that’s both invigorating and impressively fresh for a band that's been around for so long. Coomes' guitar playing is wild and loose enough to compensate for the reduced presence of his trademark distorted organ, Bolme's bass playing is melodic and ferocious, and Weiss won’t be giving up her title as best drummer on the planet anytime soon. It’s a thrilling way to start off the album and proves hard to follow. While there are moments that capture the wild intensity of the album’s start, like the chorus of "Bye Bye Blackbird," the rest of the record is more in line with their recent albums. Thoughtful ballads, Crazy Horse-inspired jams, and midtempo dirges dominate the rest of the record as piano and keys take back over from guitars. If you’ve stood beside the band for this long, there’s nothing here to make you sorry that you did.


Formed: 1993 in Portland, OR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Portland, Oregon-based indie pop duo Quasi teamed singer/guitarist/keyboardist Sam Coomes and drummer Janet Weiss, who not only previously joined forces in the band Motorgoat but also married and divorced. After a 1993 split single with Bugskull, little was heard from Quasi until 1996, when the duo issued the Early Recordings collection. In 1997, Weiss joined Sleater-Kinney for their classic Dig Me Out album, but she also continued collaborating with Coomes, and that same year saw the release of...
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American Gong (Bonus Version), Quasi
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