Quasi – American Gong (Kill Rock Stars)

I think of Quasi the same way baseball fans think of Harold Baines: never the greatest, but someone you can rely on for a very good performance year after year. Thankfully for Quasi being consistent doesn’t mean they’re always the same from album to album, and they’ve evolved over their eight full-lengths while still maintaining quality. The most glaring change on American Gong is the addition of bassist Joanna Bolme (who also plays in Stephen Malkmus’ Jicks) as a full-time member. No longer just two people banging away at their instruments, Quasi can now get into a ‘band dynamic’ – something they embrace on American Gong, an album that captures the sound of indie-rockers in their 40s reacquiring the classic rock albums they probably got rid of when they discovered punk. With musical references to classic rock staples like Neil Young and Crazy Horse (“Rockabilly Party”) and The Who (whose Live At Leeds opener “Heaven and Hell” is covered as a bonus track) the album occasionally reaches a level of bombast rarely found in indie rock. Personally, I miss the stripped down quirkiness of their late-’90s work, but American Gong is still strong.