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Quasi

Hot Shit
Touch and Go

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Quasi couldn't have chosen a more appropriate title for its most recent release. Long before the overhyped White Stripes brought their whole head-scratching brother/sister/ex-husband/ex-wife shtick to the table, the formerly married Portland, Ore., duo of Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss were creating music to satiate the savage indie-rock beast with understated flair -- even if their new title is finally boasting the truth.

Quasi's background is impressive. Coomes arrives via Heatmiser, a band that also included the likes of Elliott Smith; Weiss is currently also drummer for the deservingly critically hailed Sleater-Kinney. Combined as Quasi, the pair has produced five acclaimed releases, each expanding stylistically on the previous.

Hot Shit is a notable mix of harmonies, melodies and ironic lyricism tightly woven together by a duo that knows how to craft an adept pop song without losing any semblance of the irreverence for which they have become known. While Weiss mostly remains behind the drum kit supplying a sturdy backbone, her vocal subtleties harmonize throughout, delicately dispersed in dollops for punctuation and emphasis. This is especially effective on "Sunshine Sounds" and the title track, where Weiss' background vocals contribute a rich buoyancy to the overall sound.

Coomes uses his uniquely piercing vocals and acerbic lyrics to apply stark contrast between his usually lush guitar and layered synthesizer stylings. Signature to the darkly unpredictable Quasi style, "White Devil's Dream" is a literal "fuck you" to the current Bush administration, not so subtly layered under a somewhat predictable pop melody. Quasi can claim to be Hot Shit without a grain of salt or grandstanding: Other divorced duos might sit back and learn a thing or two.

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