Quasi, a duo from Portland, Oregon, embraces hoary pop-music cliches--and squeezes them so hard they burst. When guitarist-keyboardist Sam Coomes asks "Why did you hurt me?" on "Repetition," from the duo's new Featuring "Birds" (Up), and drummer Janet Weiss answers "You asked for it," it's a relief to hear the familiar pop thought balloon deflated. Of course, Weiss (who also pounds the skins for Sleater-Kinney) probably means it--she and Coomes used to be married. To each other. Coomes, who fronted the quirky San Francisco trio the Donner Party in the late 80s, composes bright melodies that belie his misanthropic, self-pitying lyrics about McJobs and failed love. Many of his best instrumental touches are gleaned from the Beatles, including the Harrison-like slide guitar on "The Poisoned Well" and the McCartney-esque two-chord keyboard pattern that persists throughout "It's Hard to Turn Me On," but he and Weiss thrash out the tunes with a ferocity foreign to most Fab Four-influenced combos. Quasi is second on the Metro bill, which starts off with Flin Flon, a new band featuring ex-Unrest and Air Miami guitarist Mark Robinson, and ends with Versus. Thursday, May 28, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. There's also a free in-store Wednesday at 7 PM at Reckless Records, 3157 N. Broadway; 773-404-5080. Bill Meyer
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by John Clark.