Saturday, January 27, 2007

Trans Am, Sex Change

The new album from the Washington, D.C. based electro-rock outfit Trans Am will be released next month on Thrill Jockey Records. The release of Sex Change will be their 8th full-length release under the Chicago independent record label's umbrella since 1995, when the band finished college and began seriously recording.

Trans Am (what a great band name) is Philip Manley, Nathan Means, and Sebastian Thomson, and they create a hybrid of rock and electronic music that has one foot in the sound of '70s and '80s progressive bands such as Boston and Yes (I swear I can hear some Rush in there too,) and the other foot in modern electronic-driven sounds that border on avant-garde status.

Below is some information on Sex Change from Thrill Jockey Records:

In June of 2006, Trans Am reunited at a recording school in Auckland, New Zealand, with a few songs and almost no musical equipment. Recording moved forward with a wide range of borrowed instruments, keyboards and other gear, including a 1960’s Mellotron and remarkable vintage amps.

Recorded by a professor and a student who received credit towards graduation, the session was threatened when photos of the band drinking beer in the on-campus studio were discovered by the administration. Future drinking occurred off campus. (I love how they made sure to throw that in)

Two months later, recording continued in Brooklyn, New York at the Okropolis: headquarters of New York band Oneida. Determined to make a break with the past, Trans Am again arrived with almost none of their signature gear - none of the vocoders, keyboards, drums, drum machines and amps that they used on previous albums. Two weeks later the album was mixed at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco. Compared with previous records such as TA and Liberation, which took months to complete, Sex Change was conceived, written, recorded and mixed in only three weeks.

Hear two samples from Sex Change:

I really dig this first one titled "4,738 Regrets," because there seems to be so many different things going on within it. There's the chunky yet elastic bass throughout, with a constantly driving synth beat and some delicate guitar strum, a hint of piano and strings, and of course the cymbal and snare duo. Nice.

Trans Am - 4,738 Regrets

When I listen to this next track I get the feeling that the name Trans Am is not only hip, but can also be interpreted as a representation of the band's sound. Upon hearing it I envision a pristine black TA barreling down the highway at top speed, engulfed in flames. It is being pursued by officers with inferior motors and a helicopter that's swooping overhead with a view of the badass hood-sized golden bird whose eye popping metallic sparkles shimmer brightly in the sun. The windows on the car are down and the T-tops have been removed, and "Shining Path" is blaring from the stereo speakers. Perhaps having consumed enough beer and having the volume cranked to the maximum is the ideal breeding ground for visions such as these, or perhaps this song just rocks. Probably both.

Trans Am - Shining Path

See Trans Am on tour:
Feb. 22 - Buffalo, NY Buffalo Icon
Feb. 23 - Pittsburgh, PA Carnegie Mellon University
Feb. 24 - New York, NY Knitting Factory
April 10 - Washington, DC Black Cat
April 11 - Charlottesville, VA Satellite Ballroom
April 12 - Chapel Hill, NC Local 506
April 13 - Atlanta, GA The Earl
April 14 - Birmingham, AL Bottletree
April 15 - Houston, TX Engine Room
April 16 - Austin, TX Emo's
April 18 - Tucson, AZ Club Congress
April 19 - San Diego, CA Casbah
April 20 - Los Angeles, CA Troubadour
April 21 - San Francisco, CA Bottom of the Hill
April 22 - Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge
April 23 - Seattle, WA Neumos
April 24 - Vancouver, BC Richards on Richards
April 27 - Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock Club
April 28 - Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
April 29 - Detroit, MI Magic Stick
April 30 - Toronto, ON Lee's Palace
May 1 - Montreal, PQ La Sala Rossa
May 2 - Boston, MA Great Scott
May 4 - Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brendas


Stay informed on Trans Am at: