Quasi | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Quasi 

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QUASI

The Pacific Northwest has spawned no shortage of scrappy rock duos in the last decade--the Spinanes, Courtney Love, and Heavens to Betsy among the best of them. So it's not the size of Portland's Quasi that stands out, but what they do with it. On their second album, R&B Transmogrification (Up), multi-instrumentalist Sam Coomes and drummer Janet Weiss (the one who galvanized a good band, Sleater-Kinney, into greatness) produce a surprisingly big sound with minimal use of guitar. Coomes mostly sticks with a fuzzed-out electric piano and some jury-rigged bass pedals, and Weiss's drumming adds plenty of heft--but what really fills things out is the writing. Many of the duo's snaky melodies recall the work of Built to Spill's Doug Martsch, in both the earnest delivery and the unexpected, sometimes jarring twists. But whereas Martsch has recently developed a tendency toward instrumental meandering, Quasi keeps things concise. Not everything works (the instrumental "Bird's Eye View" is an annoying novelty), but the slow-building power of something like "Ghost Dreaming," which subtly highlights the rhythm-and-blues flavors hinted at in the album title, more than overwhelms the duds. Weiss and Coomes will perform their own set and then back up guitarist Elliott Smith for a portion of his. Tim Rutili headlines. Saturday, 11:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited Quasi photo.

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