I was introduced to Quasi in September, 2010 in Vancouver, where they opened for Pavement at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. They played a number of songs from their new album "American Gong", and I was taken in by the earnestness of singer/guitarist/keyboardist Sam Coomes (who is also in Heatmiser) and the awesome beats and vocal harmonies of drummer Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney). They are joined on this album (and on their tour) by bassist Joanna Bolme. I ended up hitting their merch table after the show and asked Coomes about a few of my favorite songs from their set, and he had to think for a bit, and then remembered they were from "American Gong". I bought it and was happy to be introduced to Quasi, and then went home, hunkered down and enjoyed.
Coomes has a voice that is a cross between Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), and Ben Folds; a real crystalline delivery combined with paradoxical and witty lyrics. The two tracks that resonated with me were "Bye By Black Bird", a neat little song that opens with just guitar and vocal, that eases into some drums and harmonies with Weiss. The second of my favorites from this disc is "Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez", where the title of the song is sung over and over to great effect, letting the good times roll so to speak. His guitar work epitomizes the west coast ideal - not necessarily over-arching solos, but nicely timed rhythmic jamming.
That this band is low on the radar probably keeps them humble, and also keeps them putting out great music 16 years into their collaboration. Apparently they don't get out of their Portland, Oregon hometown much - I thought their live show was highly compelling, and their "American Gong" album well worth picking up.