Monday, July 11, 2005

Listen! Listen, Listen,Listen,Listen,Listen!!!: Just Deux It.

Throughout history, the world has been blessed with the lasting legacies of several famous pairs of persons who have left their indelible mark on our pop culture consciousness. Abbott and Costello. Batman and Robin. Starksy and Hutch. Simon and Simon...the list could go on forever.

While it's a fact that there are many well known power couples in the world of music, the truth is that for every Carpenters and White Stripes that we know and love, there are several twosomes who never seem to break the seal of the mainstream. So this week, I've decided to bring you some music involving some lesser known duos who I think are absolutely amazing and deserving of more attention. So with apologies to Nike, and to the audience as a whole for this week's lame ass theme title, I'll get on with the show...

Quasi: R & B Transmogrification

What do you get when you take a bass player from the legendary Portland band Heatmiser(the one with Elliot Smith) and marry him to the drummer from Olympia based Riot Grrrl band Sleater-Kinney? No, not the premise for a wacky, yet ill-fated sitcom. You get the real life husband and wife group Quasi. Though Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss are no longer married, they managed to keep the band together. Wow.

Wow is also an apt exclamation to describe this record. Much like the Fiery Furnaces, these two have really carved a niche for themselves with strange instrumentation and wild keyboard driven grooves. What makes Quasi different than the Furnaces however, is that Sam is not playing the piano, or even any kind of garden variety synth. His main weapon of choice is the little known electrified harpsichord known as the Roxichord. With it, he lays down thick distorted carpets of indescribable sounds that buzz and float over the top of Weiss' insistent drumming which gallops like a wild mustang drinking from a trough of Red Bull. Vocally, he doesn't try to falsely convince the audience that he's some kind of golden throated dynamo, sticking to a slightly nasal, slightly devil may care attitude.

While this probably sounds bad in print, when coupled with the incisive and razor sharp wit in his brilliant lyrics, the whole package sparkles. Coomes takes on such disparate topics as mortality(the dirge-y When I'm Dead, My Coffin), robots(The Ballad of Mechanical Man) and especially love gone awry(Sugar, Chocolate Rabbit). My vote for possibly one of the best "screw you, person who broke my heart!" songs goes to "Chocolate Rabbit" for lines like "On Easter, got a chocolate rabbit/biggest one I ever had/you never know till you've bitten off the head/that it's hollow and the chocolate's bad". Snap, baby! You just got served!

Um, anyhow...if this review is a short one, it's only because this is one of those rare times where a band has concocted a sound so totally unique and engaging, I don't think there's anything a person can do to grasp it without listening to it for themselves.

Key Tracks: When I'm Dead, Chocolate Rabbit, Clouds


QueenB said...

Am I the only one up in cyber world this morning?

Damfino said...

Roxicord and piano?!? Sounds marvelously deadening. I must admit that your reference to Simon and Simon has me stimulated in a childhood way (KJ - keep your filthy thoughts out of my comments).

Would Jake and the Fatman also suffice?

Kern said...

Jed: Jake and the Fatman would indeed suffice. And I don't think it's KJ's dirty thoughts we usually have to worry about on the blog...

/just sayin'

Kern said...

Oh and welcome back. By the way, I couldn't tell if you meant deadening in a good way or not. It's actually pretty great.