Sam Coomes of Quasi is the only composer working today who can match Stephin Merritt ditty for mercilessly glum ditty. They’re birds of an ass-ticking feather: Witty moon-June rhymes, impeccable meter, hi/lo allusions, and unrelenting kissing off: Call it snot pop. Merritt has my man beat in the melody department, but Coomes is a better singer, not least because he sounds so much more invested in the material, with its crashing choruses and actual drumming (by future Hall of Famer Janet Weiss). And his outrage is more explicitly political, which I dig.
Hot Shit is Quasi’s shaggiest record, almost Zeppy in its cosmic swagger, with Robert Louis Stevenson substituting for Satan (the first three songs are sea chanteys). That vibe can be frustrating: “Good Time Rock and Roll,” which in their live set is just that, here is all jammy and loose, and the Biercean allegory “Master & Dog” (“The elephant wields the rod/while the donkey throws you a bone/I’d rather have a bone than a beating, I suppose/but either way—still the dog”) starts off snappy but by the end sounds like one of those bad Pavement records.
I’ll forgive them. How can I not love a band that regularly sets me up with protest songs that are both insidiously hummable and foot-stompingly rocking?