American Gong

As any drama queen worth her salt knows, sometimes it's fun to wallow in a bad mood.

Clearly, Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss (the former drummer, of course, of Sleater-Kinney) share this view. Quasi takes a blue mood and turns it into indie-rock candy yet again on American Gong, a blend of witty lyrics and aggressive instrumentals. Now the duo's added Joanna Bolme to the roster, and her bass playing brings a warmth and depth to the tracks. Though this album's packed with winning tunes, the band seems most powerful and at home when they keep it simple, as in "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "The Jig Is Up." Fans won't find the group reinventing their particular wheel, but they'll be satisfied with American Gong, and thrilled to have Quasi back after a too-long hiatus. Coomes frames it best on "Black Dogs and Bubbles": "Always fall in love with what makes you sad."

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