Boomkat Product Review:
At one point in their history, Quasi were best known for being Elliott Smith's backing band, supporting the late singer-songwriter on tour and guesting on his records. Sam Coomes, Quasi's main man, was once a member of Smith's old band Heatmiser, later going on to play on both Figure 8 and From A Basement On A HIll, while Quasi's drummer, Janet Weiss was in Sleater Kinney, later joining Stephen Malkmus' band, The Jicks. This seasoned duo was later made a trio by the addition of Weiss' fellow Jick, Joanna Bolme, who rounds off the current Quasi line-up, on bass. The threesome arrive in fine form for American Gong, reintroducing themselves with their very distinctive brand of songwriting - which on tracks like 'Everything & Nothing At All' isn't too distant a cousin from Elliott Smith's own Beatles-plundering tendencies - albeit on this occasion coloured by indie-rock super-producers Dave Fridmann, Tucker Martine and Steve Fisk. Fridmann's hand is especially visible in the fiery over-saturated mixing, drawing out parallels with The Flaming Lips' frazzled production sounds sporadically across the album. Despite all that. there's no suppressing this band's signature methods of melodic construction, played out with reliably characterful aplomb via Coomes' scrappily accomplished keyboard and guitar, and Weiss' brilliantly ragged drums. Bar the record's occasional plummeting into excessive distortion and other such cosmetic nuances American Gong is no major creative departure for Quasi and that is a very good thing indeed.