Liberation

Thrill Jockey
thrill 144 - 2004
Formed in 1993, Trans Am remains the trio of Nathan Means (bass, keyboards, vocals), Phil Manley (guitar, keyboards, bass, vocals) and Sebastian Thompson (drums, vocals, bass, guitar, programming). Over the course of six albums and three eps, Trans Am have pleased and confounded critics with their everchanging music style. From their most Deutsch-influenced selftitled debut to Futureworld, their 80\'s inspired super-synth pop tunes (about 2 years before it was cool) to the raw rock of Red Line, their musical style has always varied. Touring for at least six months of every year, Trans Am are a consistent draw throughout the world. While their music style may be ever changing, the force of their live performance is always undeniable.

Liberation is their new record (seventh overall) and the first album on which politics have crept into their music. Their position is unambiguous. Recorded in summer and fall of 2003 at the band\'s own National Recording Studio, Liberation reflects the tension coursing through the city. While New York\'s skyline is the most radically altered in the past three years, life in Washington is palpably different as well since 9/11. The hum of swirling helicopters, the din of police sirens, and a culture of fear have become omnipresent in Washington DC. Today, on a normal commute through the city, one is likely to encounter a Humvee on the side of the road- not a workout guru\'s Hummer, but the real thing with mounted machine guns, surrounded by desert camouflage. And so with the window of the studio open, pressing play and record, police cars and helicopters were caught on tape, along with the tunes. It is in this environment that Trans Am finished their seventh album.

Musically Liberation is classic Trans Am. Styles continue to shift from track to track, culling from a vocabulary familiar to fans of their previous six records. From the opening helicopter intro on \"Outmoder\" the journey begins, taking you through a run of mid- 70\'s crunching guitars (\"Idea Machine\"/\"Divine Invasion\") to late 80\'s snyth-tones (\"Uninvited Guests\"/\"Remote Control\") and back to 2004 with what\'s new is old again a la The Rapture and !!! (\"June\"). Like nearly all their albums, Liberation was engineered and mixed by the band. Production assistance was provided by Jonathan Kreinik (who often mixes them live), Paul Manley and Nikhil Randade. Together the team keeps Trans Am\'s agenda of Liberation in being as much political statement as recorded output. Collages of sound bites culled from radio and television give the tracks a dark tension that captures our current state of affairs, and harkens to the listener Liberate yourselves!!