Featuring “Birds” was the second studio album by Portland, Oregon duo Quasi. They were made up of organist and vocalist Sam Coomes who played in Heatmiser and has since gone on to a solo career, and drummer Janet Weiss also of Slater-Kinney, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks and Wild Flag. Around the time of this release in 1998 Quasi were Elliott Smith’s tour support and also played as his backing band. Featuring “Birds” is a lesser-known indie classic.
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Domino have this week re-issued pretty much all the Quasi albums but I’ll write a few words on this one as a) it’s the most familiar to me and b) it’s probably the best one.
Quasi were a organ and drum duo consisting of Sam Coombes (Heatmiser) and Janet Weiss (Sleater Kinney etc). They make a lop-sided pop racket that will appeal to fans of Grandaddy and Apples in Stereo alike. Elliott Smith sometimes played bass withy them and Coombes was a regular in Smiths' band so certain songs have a similar melodic slant - albeit with wild organ freak outs.
Opening tracks ‘Our Happiness is Guaranteed’ and ‘ I Never Want to See You Again’ both have an Elliott Smith-like quality but the band go all over the shop stretching their the Beatles-esque melodies into all kinds of shapes and sizes. Occasionally they drop the organs altogether and on the Weiss sung ’ Tomorrow You’ll Hide’ land themselves an album high point with glistening guitars and lovely harmonies but mostly we’re at the mercy of Coombes mangles 70s AM style composition and distorted organ.
A messy blast of pop fun.
8/10 Penrith Steve Customer review, 16th May 2016
This is my favourite album by Quasi, the duo of Sam Coombes (Heatmiser) and Janet Weiss (Sleater Kinney, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Wild Flag). It opens with "Our Happiness is Guaranteed" which, after a dischordant and jarring intro, breaks into a lovely melody.
The sweet melodies and lyrics don't match in tone, however: "We went through hell just to get to hell" and "At least I never lied, I'm not trying to document my suicide" from "The Poisoned Well" or "It's hard to be cheerful when you feel so hopeless" from "California", which is otherwise decidedly upbeat. Musically, it is mainly Sam Coombes Keyboard or Organ and Janet Weiss's drums - there's bits of guitar thrown in here and there, but the sound they make is quite original and I'd recommend starting with this one.
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- Featuring "Birds" by Quasi
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