See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

American Gong

Posted By on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Quasi has always been a most appropriate name for the keyboards-guitar-drums project of Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss. Both participants were involved with other, higher profile outfits near its mid-'90s inception — Heatmiser and Sleater-Kinney, respectively — so Quasi was originally relegated to "side project" status. The intervening decade has seen both of those bands' dissolutions, though, and now, with the introduction of bassist Joanna Bolme into the fold, Quasi sounds and feels like a first-string project. 

Strangely enough, adding bass to the mix finally enabled the band to make a guitar rock record — and it is a burner. American Gong draws from '60s pop touchstones — check out the Beatles' "Blue Jay Way" homage on the intro to "Everything and Nothing at All." But litanies of other influences are here as well. "Now What" sounds like a cousin of the Pixies' "Gigantic." "The Jig is Up" could actually be mistaken as a Jeff Tweedy solo number. And "Repulsion" could have been delivered by any number of Detroit's garage rock revivalists. 

There's even some serious psychedelic shredding on "Rockabilly Party" and "Black Dogs and Bubbles" that's as visceral as music gets. In a lot of ways, American Gong harks back to the great '90s indie amalgamators Guided By Voices ... only in much higher fidelity. There's a lot of indie music these days that's a little light on the rock and too heavy on the pop. But Quasi's latest is the very embodiment of what a quality power trio with a good distortion pedal is capable of delivering — truly energetic music with solid sonic heft.

Quasi plays Saturday, April 17, at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7665. With Let's Wrestle.

Aaron Shaul writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Aaron Shaul

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 13, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation