Featuring Birds

Quasi's Sam Coomes is A bitter man...

Featuring Birds

8 / 10 QUASI'S SAM COOMES IS A bitter man. It's not because his former Heatmiser bandmate, Elliott Smith, is more famous than him: they're still mates and he gets a slice of the action by playing in Elliott's band along with Janet Weiss, Quasi's drummer. No, Sam is all bent out of shape for the right reasons: because life is shit and other people are bastards.

"You only hurt the one you love/That may be true/But better said, 'You only hurt the one who loves you'", he observes Moz-ishly on 'The Poisoned Well', just one of many vituperative lyrical outings that make the Quasi record not only a thing of beauty, but of great bile too. Indeed, 'Featuring Birds' is an eloquent soundtrack to a trammelled, 20-nothing life, where menial jobs erode hope and loved ones are the source of "a thousand little cruelties we agree to pretend to ignore".

Lyrically, Coomes often seems like the flip side of Smith: the truculent cynic to Smith's battered dreamer. Their voices are even uncannily similar. But the two bands are musically distinct: Quasi's groove being largely constructed of battered organ and drumkit, with guitar and the odd violin soldered on. So Quasi career emotively between Hammond wig-outs, naked piano chords and subversive guitar pop ditties, buoyed by the vicious drumming of Weiss, the busiest drummer in alt-rock (she's also in Sleater-Kinney).

Bitter they may be; but Quasi remain inspirationally unbowed.

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