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?"
"Hey Aaron, will you go to the store and get me a YooHoo?"
"Hey Aaron, will you plunge the toilet?'
"Hey Aaron, will you write my Trans Am review for
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
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
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
2. Uninvited Guest
3. Idea Machine
4. White Rhino
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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