Quasi- Breaking the Balls of History

by | Feb 16, 2023 | Reviews

Quasi Breaking the Balls of History 


Quasi, the long running drums and organ power duo of Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss, have just released their first album in 10 years, the brilliantly sardonic and much needed Breaking the Balls of History. The band shares on their Bandcamp that this album might never have been, and that their 2013 album, Mole City, very well might have been their last had the harshness of life not come calling and quite literally careening into the band. First, Weiss was severely injured in a 2019 car crash. Then the following year, Covid came to (everyone’s) town and we all know what happened next. Given the gravity of everything she went through, Weiss realized “There’s no investing in the future anymore, the future is now. Do it now if you want to do it. Don’t put it off. All those things you only realize when it’s almost too late. It could be gone in a second.”


And so here we are in 2023, Weiss has healed from her injuries, the pandemic is…among us still but has abated from the worst times, and Quasi has blessed us with a new collection of songs, twelve in all, with all the hilarious social and political  commentary, quirky organ, sunny pop drenched harmonies, and effortlessly awesome drum fills your heart desires thrown into the mix. There’s no doubt the pandemic influenced the making of the record, how could it not, and the band found themselves taking advantage of the situation by practicing and writing daily, almost mimicking the daily routine of being on tour. Coomes shares “When you’re younger and in a band, you make records because that’s what you do, but this time, the whole thing felt purposeful in a way that was unique to the circumstances.”


The album hits highs and lows along the way, there is a palpable feeling of anxiety in many if not most of the songs, and given all that happened in the world and to the band in the time since we last heard from them, that’s understandable. “Doomscrollers,” which was released as the second single, offers their take on the one thing everyone (justifiably) loves to hate (yet still does, myself included), doomscrolling. But is it really about the action or what we find on said scroll? Either way you slice it, the song certainly calls out our increasingly alarming inability to engage with reality—no matter what side of the political spectrum you fall on—which leads to us scrolling through our days now instead. “Everybody baking bread, doomscrolling going out of their head.” The song is paired with a music video directed by B.A. Miale and features the band being driven around the various chaos of “the timeline,” (or is it “reality”) in a pickup truck (complete with “keep on truckin’” plates) by a grim reaper like character.



“Nowheresville” was the third single and exudes a cool 60s rock n roll party vibe, complete with a killer organ groove and shoop shoop vocal harmonies. But don’t let the groovy aesthetic fool you, or the bike riding Sasquatch starring in the music video make you think the song is a light hearted joke (and I do love a good Sasquatch cameo, I mean who doesn’t?!). The song doesn’t say it outright, but it’s not hard to read between the lines that it’s about the atrocious state of affairs when it comes to gun control and mass shootings in the US and how our elected “leaders” continuously throw their hands up in the air while offering “thoughts and prayers” as a means to justify the blood on their hands. “Here they come now thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers won’t get ya there but I guess they do make a pretty pair.” And thus the cryptozoology themed video does make a whole lot of sense in the full context, our hairy beast riding off to nowheresville with the empty words of politicians and their promises to do something tangible as much a myth as a real Sasquatch is.



Other highlights include the lower key “Gravity” which pulls back the curtain on the theater of the absurd that is the “post facts” era created by Trump and his fanatical followers where reality doesn’t matter so much as much as your ability to sell the lie. “You can walk on water if you so choose in your made-in-USA concrete shoes” Coomes croons, too world weary to sound exasperated about it, resigned to the fact that these are the times and the people we have to deal with now. As frustrating as that realization is, I can certainly understand it because it is exhausting and sometimes you just need to make it though the damn day. “Riots and Jokes” in particular sees Weiss in top form on the drum kit, hitting hard, powerful beats and nailing some absolutely killer fills, announcing she is not only back and better than ever, but so happy to be here; the delight is obvious and infectious: “I can hear in the music how happy I am to be there and to be playing at that level again” she shares.  


Indeed, we are happy Weiss is back too, one of the best and most respected drummers of her generation, it is always an inspiring joy to hear her play. (I began playing drums not long before Weiss joined Sleater-Kinney in 1996 so I grew up, and learned to play, while listening to her.) This album comes at a unique point in history, where most days it feels like we are through the looking glass—up is down and down is up—which arguably could be said for many other eras too, it just feels even worse than ever before and like we can’t seem to ever get away (cue “Doomscrollers” again). But it also arrives just in time to say yeah we’re tired and resigned to deal with a lot of this shit, but we’re also laughing at it too because what the fuck else are you going to do? I can’t help but think of other masters of political and social sarcasm like Dead Kennedys and War On Women when I think of a band like Quasi too. Sonically all different, but connected in the unique ways they all call out and filter the bullshit that permeates human existence when you’re living anywhere outside the realm of right wing la la land.


Quasi has never failed to give me a wild ride, bumpy at times with the subjects they deal with, but worth it in the end to make sure I’m still challenging myself to do something about the ills of this world. They also provide one hell of a catchy soundtrack for the journey and Breaking the Balls of History is yet another awesome addition to their already strong legacy. I’m ready to keep on truckin’.


Breaking the Balls of History is out now via SubPop. The upcoming tour in support of the record hits NYC at TV Eye on 3/16.





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