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Trans Am | You Can Always Get What You Want | review | indie | alternative | rock | Lollipop

Trans Am

You Can Always Get What You Want (Thrill Jockey)
by Tim Den

The amazing thing about Trans Am is not that they are multi-instrumentalists making instrumental music with every instrument and electronic sound under the sun, nor is it that the outcome of such experimental masturbation results in the most outrageous compositions of the genre. The amazing thing about Trans Am is that they are labeled "post-rock," but manage to rock the fuck out of their songs either literally or by trancing out your attention span with driving yet hypnotizing beats. You see, lots and lots of post-rock/experimental bands seem to be made of individuals armed with curiosity rather than creativity, so much so that their compositions seem more about "let's see what it'd sound like if I rubbed my dick on vinyl" than "let's see how we can make my rubbing dick sound good and help the song." Exploration is a must in writing and composing, but retaining a focus helps bring the newly explored areas into usefulness; into something coherent and effective rather than limp, go-nowhere sounds. From the sounds of it, Trans Am agrees.

Not only does this instrumental trio know how to create deafening screeches and Voltron keyboard sounds, they know how -- and more importantly when -- to use them. If the song is being carried by an MC5-ish bass line and is burning rubber on its own, the ol' sampler wouldn't even be touched. But when an ambient backing track is sailing along nice and repetitively (same electronic beat, ever soothing in its EQ, over and over), the crazy sounds trickle in one by one like trained parachuters: precise, timely, each adding more characteristic to the composition without ever saturating it. If only more post-rock bands followed Trans Am's example, not so many people would be walking away night after night thinking "those were interesting sounds" and forgetting about what they saw the next day. Knowing when to add, when to pull out certain elements, when to change the mood -- essentially, an ear for "pop" structures and discipline -- has made Trans Am something a lot of post-rock bands will never be: a force that not only leaves its audience in awe of the boldness, but with an afterglow that can only be achieved with great songs.


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