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Trans Am
Liberation
Thrill Jockey Records
www.transband.com


Greetings. My name is Aaron Miller, I'm 29, and I'm a native Austinite. I live with Emily Strong. Emily has this habit of asking me to do things I don't really want to do:

"Hey Aaron, will you do my Linguistics homework for me?"
"No."

"Hey Aaron, will you go to the store and get me a YooHoo?"
"Uh…"

"Hey Aaron, will you plunge the toilet?'
"Christ."

"Hey Aaron, will you write my Trans Am review for me?"

I quickly said yes for two reasons:
1) Emily does not really like Trans Am, or at least not as much as I do. She does not have any albums except for the new one. She doesn't know any of the song titles. She does not immediately make either hand into the devil sign when you say the words "Trans Am."

2) I have the day off. We agreed that the only requirement was that I have it to her by Monday, and that I not use the terms "soundscape," "powerhouse," or "tour de force."

Since their self-titled debut in 1996, Trans Am has consistently been one of the most notable bands on Chicago's Thrill Jockey Records. One of the largest showcases of truly ambitious indie fare, Thrill Jockey is home to the likes of genre-bending guru David Byrne (ex-Talking Heads), Giant Sand, Mouse On Mars, and my all-time favorite band this side of the Atlantic, Tortoise (see also labelmates Directions, Isotope 217, and of course The Sea And Cake, all bands containing at least one current or ex-member of Tortoise). Simply put, Trans Am is the kind of sophisticated rock-yet-not-rock that has been ahead of the curve since the mid-90s. Minimalist. 80s-synth well before it was cool. Two bassists, two guitars, two keys, synth and live drums, drum programming, and only three fucking guys. You do the math. Or put in their newest, Liberation, and have Trans Am do it for you. A power trio of the highest order, Trans Am has hit home with a new album that is tough as dog balls, slicker than a Greek salesman, and, true to the measure of previous releases, strangely accessible for a band that's been around for ten years that nobody seems to have ever fucking listened to. They have something for everybody. Club kids like the music for its seriously danceable synth-toned rhythms. Their records find a way into the crates of DJs and hip-hoppers alike for the dense, driving beats and the inescapable truth that three white guys from the mid-west can kick out the jams when they feel like it. And of course, the indie-rock snob art-fag contingent likes it because they have always liked it.

Before I get to the gist of why Liberation is a must-have, I must tell you two things about myself:

I am intensely paranoid INRE: politics and government.
I'm cooler than you.

Which is why Trans Am is still the shit, and continues to move me. Dark without being depressing, funny without warning, and the same hotshot precision as has come to be expected, the new CD has tapped into our Western culture of fear and distraction, and may well have provided an unwitting soundtrack for the dastardly deeds of the Bush administration. I will not tell you about the sirens or the helicopters, or the clever sound bytes from foreign and domestic newscasts. I will not tell you about the impeccable taste, timing, and subtle mathematical wizardry of Sebastian Thompson's drums. And I will most definitely not tell you how track 9 MUST be the music the devil himself hears in his head while listening to the BBC.

This record, for those in the know, is a touch simpler than the others, but no less Trans Am at their best-a nod towards 1998's The Surveillance, and 1999's Futureworld. Whether you are looking for rock, electro-rock, synth-pop, melodic grace, or, like me, a sure-fire soundtrack to the file-stealing, briefcase-switching, Maserati-driving, drug-, lust-, and blood-fueled Euro-spy movie in your head, you must get Liberation now. We will not be free much longer.

-Aaron Miller

Track listing:

1. Outmoder
2. Uninvited Guest
3. Idea Machine
4. White Rhino
5. June
6. Music for Dogs
7. Divine Invasion, Pt. 2
8. Washington D.C.
9. Total Information Awareness
10. Pretty Close to the Edge
11. Is Trans Am Really Your Friend?
12. Remote Control
13. Spike in the Chatter
14. Divine Invasion


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