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Quasi: American Gong 

Kill Rock Stars

Sam Coomes (keys) and Sleater-Kinney's Janet Weiss (drums) have long harnessed the negativity of post-breakup depression. Their jabs at each other defined Quasi when it caught the world's attention with R&B Transmogrification in '97. American Gong goes there, but the grudge is a formality. Coomes leads the record, and his lilting voice is at its most confident in "Little White Horse" and "Bye Bye Blackbird." New addition Joanna Bolme (bass) turns the Sargasso mess into a concise record, driven by motorik chops and noisy melodies. The rejected piano man returns with an air of finality in "Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler." Is this the end, or just an estranged couple rediscovering what made their songs so compelling in the first place? Either way, it's their best record since the '90s. 4 out of 5 stars.

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