Trans Am

Fun Fun Fun on the (Maryland) Autobahn
*special introductory paragraph!
*Trans Am
*Surrender To The Night
*The Surveillance
*You Can Always Get What You Want
*Red Line
*Double Exposure EP (by Trans Champs)
*Extremixxx EP
*Gold (by The Fucking Am)
*Sex Change
*What Day Is It Tonight? Live 1993-2008

It must be a difficult thing to play in a band with Mark Prindle, genius, because afterwards no matter how much fame and fortune you enjoy in your musical career, you still wake up every morning thinking to yourself, "Do you realize I GAVE UP being in a band with Mark Prindle just so I could go on to release eight records and become an extremely popular underground artist?" Alas, this is how Trans Am bassist/synthesizerist/vocalist Nathan Means must scrape through his sorrowful existence of pain. You see, Nathan and I played in a band in college called Lima. We had some pretty good songs here and there, but no clear direction (especially since I tended to turn our live shows into dumb comedy/performance art things while the other two guys tried to figure out why the songs kept falling apart). So, after just a few months and one live show that was really, truly awful thanks to an ill-suited female singer (that I picked because she was a friend of mine) and the fact that I broke a string when Nathan and I did a Venom-style "hold the guitar and bass up in the air like swords and rub the necks against each other" bit, Nathan left to spend a semester abroad. By the time he returned, Lima had gone through reportedly FIVE more bass players before a completely unspoken breakup after a miserable show at the world-famous Cat's Cradle (a show that I began by stabbing a lifesize cardboard standup of Andrew Dice Clay and throwing red food coloring all over everyone in front of the stage). He returned to his old band Trans Am (Original name: Fly. Original sound: Fugazi,) which had unexpectedly become a completely kickass three-piece instrumental combo -- and I changed my name to Justin Timberlake and went on to fame and fortune with four gay friends of mine.

Trans Am - Thrill Jockey 1996
Rating = 8

The first thing you're like-all to notice about Trans Am is that you just listened to it for half an hour, it's over and no words ever came out. That's because Trans Am began their recording career as an instrumental combo! At this time, their sound revolved around taking `70s rock styles and merging them with a "post-rock" (don't blame me - I didn't make up the stupid term) cold emotionless void of studio perfection. Although old-timey synths ARE present, they haven't yet begun to play the overriding role that they would on later Trans Am records - it's mostly stony simplistic bass notes, catchy groovy rock guitar licks (through various effects) and intense, spirited drumming.

Trans Am was an astonishing live band at this time, so when the record came out, I personally was disappointed. And jealous, of course, but the immature shortcomings of my early adulthood are not on trial here. It sounded to me like half a band. Why didn't the guitarist do more? Why did Nathan just thwub thwub thwub away on one or two bass notes like he was in Public Image Ltd. or Can or something? Why did the guitar go away whenever a synth would come in? And definitely without a doubt most importantly - why is the cover art so boring, cheap-looking and shitty?

Years later, all of my answers were revealed. Unfortunately, I wasn't there at the time and the little magical knowledge tree in my backyard refuses to repeat itself. Now it's just out there reciting hockey statistics like I give an Air Force One (euphemism for "flying fuck" - get it????).

So based on what I do know - I hear lots of great - though minimalist - collections of fuzzy synth/bass notes, great drumming almost tribal in its business and a rock and roll-trained guitarist pushing his way into THE FUTURE! Great mix on the record - everything is really loud. And Zounds! What sounds! Your favorite classic rock bands are recalled left and right! The Alex Lifeson 5/4 explorations of "Ballbados"! The Canned Heat "On The Road Again" smooth groove of "Enforcer"! The "Tom Sawyer" phased synth breakdown of "Firepoker"! The James Gang low-down hard- rockin' sweatfunk of "Orlando"! The . Christ, I don't know. Nazareth? Kiss? The emotional yet dark delayed backward-sounding guitar line to "Love Affair"! The "Mexican Radio" synth insanity of "American Kooter"! The Fugazi soundalike of "Trans Am"! The boring John Cage-esque one-note pulse of "A Single Ray Of Light On A Cloudy Day"! And THAT'S what must be pointed out most vividly and caressingly. This GODDAMNED BAMNED are far too eager to put little snippets of synth drums or drones onto their records, dandy them up with song titles like they're a real song - and CHEAT AMERICANS OUT OF AMERICAN JOBS.

Oh I'm sorry - when you said "Trans Am," I automatically thought of that house full of Mexicans on the corner.

Reader Comments (Travis Sitter)
I have the first album! Is good? Yes! Is good! Unless you can't get past the lack of vocals! But I can, because I have a more sophisticated palette now than when I was a metalhead in grade 7. 6 long years ago. In summary: Trans Am's first album is good! Heavy metal sucks! What was I thinking!? GAH!! To think I once liked heavy metal! I was twelve! I got over it! Give me a break! STOP JUDGING ME!! I also liked the cover art on this album. It's better than anything I could have done. Go and buy this, and every other Trans Am album now!

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Surrender To The Night - Thrill Jockey 1997
Rating = 8

The second Trans Am car has a darker, more mature, produced, adult, musical mood than the first one, thanks to a great album cover showing the sun disappearing over the horizon. The songs are Tight! The bass lines are Great! And there are lots of different drum textures on account of the drummer Sebastian "Bach of Skid Row Fame" Thompson doing all sorts of fishbirdtree Express with drum kits and machines. That's right - machines! Like a modern-day Bill Bruford, Sebastian Thompson isn't afraid to relinquish his hard-hitting, powerful drum style in favor of soulless, pussyass tip-tip-tip treble-pippy fake drums of shit.

Speaking of really positive goodness, Surrender To Bob Hite is also a much more emotional album than the first one, though still instrumental, meaning that the emotions conjured by the notes are really all in your mind, Mr. Crazy Man (or Mr. Crazy Woman) who can't tell the difference between real feelings and fake ones implanted in your psyche by a big Hollywood movie star, Trans Am. The music is very Breakfast Clubby in spots, but not to the detriment of a person who desires moods galore. You're going to hear guitar melancholy (Phil Manley on the asdjl), funk empowerment, early-rap Miami Vice silliness, Tangerine Dream ambience, PIL dub bass, overmodulated-to- distorting guitar/bass, romantic lush synth arrangements, industrial pulses, Aphex Twin- style electricalonica = Trans Am are not at all a one-genre band. They flirt with "electronic music," but the band members are just too normal and unpretentious to suck cock like so many artists of that genre like to do. Plus they like rock too much -- though I should clarify that only maybe one or two songs on here ROCK. It's pretty subdued overall, like the album title and cover, which shows a man in a yellow hat drowning in the ocean.

Like every Trans Am product, it has a few non-tracks that I have no idea WHO the hell is supposed to enjoy. For example, I enjoy the overmodulated ugly distorted bass noise of "Rough Justice" - but why would I want to hear an entire track of overmodulated fake drums immediately afterwards? And even more ircrucially, "Night Dancing" is a recording of synth drums. AND NOTHING ELSE AT ALL. No effects, no blips, no bass - just synth drums. I hate to be harsh, but this is completely pointillistic, like the cover of the Misfits' Earth A.D. album, and that's ALL it is.

Don't duck and cover though - it's a really darn good album that you can totally make up your own lyrics to. Make them about FUCKIN'!!!! Example: "Tough Love" might go "I got tough love/In my chimney sweeping broom of desire/Let me gently insert it into your flue/Then pull it out and hit you with it, as if I was Richard Pryor."

Don't use those exact lyrics though; they're from a Ravi Shankar album.

Mr. Trying Too Hard

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The Surveillance - Thrill Jockey 1998
Rating = 7

More instrumental magic and wasted space from kickboxing action star Jean-Claude Tran Samme. Four good rockers on this one! Guitars, drum smashin', bass thumpin' - rock! It might be best not to discuss the other six songs.

Jesus just came down to Earth and said he wanted to know what I thought about the other six. I tried to argue that he should just ask his Dad because he's all- knowing, but Jesus replied, "That auto mechanic Mom balled behind Joseph's back was all-knowing?"

Then Buddha came to Earth and said he wanted to know what I thought about the other six. I tried to argue that my opinions have nothing to do with enlightenment, but two huge rolls of fat leapt out in anger and sucked me into his smelly fat fuck of a body.

Then Allah came down to Earth and said he wanted to know what I thought about the other six. But before I could answer, he just got mad and drove a plane into my building.

Then Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva came down to Earth and said they wanted to know what I thought about the other six. So I whipped out my dick and jerked off all over the pieces of shit.

Then Satan came up to Earth and said he wanted to know what I thought about the other six. As I love and worship Satan, I answered. The other six songs are electronic music ranging from creepy Meat Beat Manifesto frightening cold beeping to blissful Kraftwerkica to (at some point, I accidentally deleted the rest of this sentence. I'm sorry about that).

Unfortunately for us, the viewers of the music (if you throw ink in the air in front of the speakers, you can see the sound waves drifting across the room - try it!). a bit too much of this disc is turned over to minimalist pip-pip-pipping that anybody with a Casio keyboard can listen to just by pushing maybe three keys and a button. "Endgame"? It's a corrosive air noise followed by a drone. CALL DICK CLARK!

"E.S.I."? That's a high tinny synth pulse. CALL CASEY KASEM!

"Shadow Boogie"? That's a fake drumbeat. CALL RICK DEES!


Half of the CD is great - really solid great driving cool wonderful rock music. The other half is so spotty, they should have named the CD The Dallmeitiance. Ha! Do you get it? Read it again! Read it again til you get it! It was great! Read it again! AGAIN!

(read it as "dalmations")

Read it again!

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FutureWorld - Thrill Jockey 1999
Rating = 8

It's official! Here we are in the future - the future where people put WORDS in their songs! Four of these ten songs feature whispered or robotic vocoder synth vocals, and the speaking world couldn't be happier. Let's see what we have here. Hmm. Let's see. Okay, yes. YES! No. No? Okay no. YES! What? Great!

Okay, we've come to a consensus. What we have here is one HELL of a good Trans Am CD - their best yet! Whether you're a fan of uptempo modal Neu-style Krautrock, aggressive heavy metal, beautiful Hendrix-style soul guitar licking, Kraftwerky robotic `70s futurism, industrial noise, sleazy cocaine-induced Pink Floyd/Steely Dan cocktail lounge, Hawkwind-style speed-driven sci-fi drama or lost, lonely echoing saxophone heartbreak - you're going to find something on here to LUST.

The hooks and sounds are compelling, and the stylistic diversity will only leave you guessing. Guessing about the things you really oughta know. Ho. Ho. You really oughta know-oo-ow. The only complaint that you'll hear rising from my ashes is that every single song on here drags on for far too long. Once you're past track one, not a single one of the next nine songs ends in less than three minutes and forty-five seconds. The title track is goddamngead seven minutes long! And these guys aren't exactly "Bob Lotsofdifferentparts" if you catch my drift. Take it from me - there's a reason that this band isn't called "Trans Sevenoreightdifferentpartsineverysong." And the reason is because that would be a really stupid name for a band.

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* You Can Always Get What You Want - Thrill Jockey 2000 *
Rating = 10

I know for a fact that people from all walks of life will attempt to deceive you with their corporate lies about this album, but for length, diversity and showcase of all that is Trans Ammy, one cannot argue against this "warts, sods and all" collection of warts, which if you dig underneath them, also includes a CD of music. This is LIVE versions of great songs, ALTERNATE versions of other magnifique songs (Oops! Sorry! Didn't mean to speak French there! No sir, this site is for FREEDOM languages only! Would anybody like a Freedom Kiss?), songs from singles and rarities so rare even the BAND doesn't know that I hilariously snuck them onto this album (like the entire second side of Styx's Pieces Of Eight, which I've wittily entitled "Love Commander" - Ha! Yay for me! And America's Freedom under the Liberty Flag!). Standouts include "Simulacrum," a grinding rock pound that speeds up DURING each line! I hope this is Nathan's sly way of referencing an old Lima song that we made up to make fun of our drummer's proclivity to slow all our punk songs down midway through out of sheer fatigue and no mean-spiritedness on his part (a song that eventually turned up on my old band Low-Maintenance Perennials' cassette Chicago XX: Chicago's Greatest Hits as "Most Weather Sucks (My Ballsac)," until it was unfairly removed from the recording during it shortening from 90-minute tape to 74-minute CDR), but I have a feeling it has nothing to do with it, so if you'd like, you can go back and not read this sentence.

Standouts also include the laugh-out-lloyd sci-fi melodramedy "Now You Die, Thriddle Fool," the impressively impressionistic musique concrete art piece "Security Breach" (which details, through synthesizer noise alone, the entire scene of a person sneaking into an industrial complex, setting off an alarm and running away from the police and helicopters - the alarm noises are so high-pitched, they made my special doggy cry! I love him!) and "Illegal Ass," which is a standout in the sense that I'd rather "standout side" until the boring piece of shit synth fuckleberry is over and life inside has gotten betterly improved for all.

Kraftwerk synths, bass-driven aggressive rock ("aggro" is a stupid fake word - YOU AGREE WITH ME!), novelty, art, beautiful teen angst romantic prettiness, hot live action and lots of free eggs - you'll find them all HERE, in Trans Am's You Can Always Get What You Want (Remastered With Eggs Version). Reminds me of one time I saw hilarious comedyman Neil Hamburger opening for Trans Am at a NYC club full of indie rockers. First the kids were confused by his "unfunny" act, then they got it and laughed hiply, then they realized he wasn't going to stop and they started getting bored and extremely belligerent (for hip people) and shouting "TRANS AM!!!! TRANS AM!!! TRANS AM!!!!" Mr. Hamburger read the news in black and white and responded despondently, "Oh, I understand. You want Trans Am, huh? You wanna hear Trans Am?" (crowd roars) "Well then, let me be the one. to proudly present.. Ladies and gentlemen.. TRAAAAANS AAAAAAM merchandise, which can be purchased at the merchandise booth at the back of the hall a little later. But right now, we've got another hour and a half of comedy to do, so..."

Ahhh memories.

Especially really painful ones, like my Dad screaming at me every summer for ten years because I sucked at baseball.

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Red Line - Thrill Jockey 2000
Rating = 8

Interesting thing about instrumental bands - when they sing for you, you feel like the band is giving you a special present! You don't normally think such things, so it is to Trans Am's whatever-word-goes-here (not "detriment" or "supplement"; not "pleasure" or "misdemeanor" - maybe I'll think of it later) that they are able to make the spoken human voice seem special again.

The Red Line (foot to the floor) Red Line (slow pace is a bore) Red Line (yourself you've just passed) Red Line (you still come in last!) Red Line (copyright DRI 1987) CD is double-album-length and full of hot to trot smirking song titles like "Diabolical Cracker," "Don't Bundle Me" and "Where Do You Want To Fuck Today?" It also - at least for a WHILE - seems like the power quartet (if you count all the members' shoes as one big collective person like I do) has finally learned that the best way to make a quirky non-song sound interesting is to make it come in and go away - QUICKLY. It's like an equation: QUIRKY + QUICKLY = QUILLER!!! (killer). Thus, such synth blurbles and flippity-pippets as "Let's Listen To One Romantic Synth Note For 45 Seconds" (perhaps better known as "Let's Take The Fresh Step Together"), "Echoal Drumday" (perhaps referenced among the populace as "Casual Friday") and "Mr. Disturbingly Popped-And-Crackly Vocals With Fake Drums And A Two-Note Surf-Spy Bass Line" (oh sorry - YOU probably know him as "Mr. Simmons") come across less like wastes of space and more like great, experimental bridges between longer, more fully developed numbers like the rockin' Kraftwerk dance stabber "I Want It All," the angry Nitzer Ebb distorto-synth aggression of "Polizei (Zu Spat)" and the old-school Trans Am drums-bass-guitar hard-hitting loud pop rock coolness of "Play In The Summer."

Unfortunately, halfway through, the non-songs get longer, the long-songs lick donger and "The `Am" come dangerously close to penning a hot new self-help book entitled How To Ruin A Great Album. But, as Milli Vanilli once sang, blame it on the length. There's no reason for them to have jammed 21 tracks on here. I'm "all crazy and wild" about bands voiding on canvas, but am I nuts or is "Bad Cat" a jam session so shitty and disconnected that it makes the Sun City Girls sound as tight as a mayonnaise lid? Or say! Have you heard "Talk You All Tight"? Or perhaps I should instead ask "Say! Have you ever plunged needles into your eyeballs over and over for a full five minutes?"

Oh, but who am I to judge? After all, how many songs have I written? (hundreds). How many CDs have I recorded? (we'll say 5 or 6 that I'm proud of, though the actual number is more like 20 or 21) Where do I get off criticizing other peoples' work when I probably can't even play an instrument? (I play guitar and bass, and fiddle around with lots of other stuff) I should go back and listen to the Spice Girls or whatever shit I listen to if I can't appreciate kickass hard rock! (honestly, the first couple Spice Girls CDs are kinda cute! Yet somehow, it IS possible to listen to music that is neither another person's favorite band NOR that same person's least favorite band.).

In other words, Trans Am aren't changing their style a whole lot, but they play such a diverse range of material anyway (though generally electronic - not modern dance electronics though! 60s/70s electronics), you shouldn't consider that to be a bad thing. And if this CD has some stinkers near the end, it hardly changes the fact that there's like nine genius songs in the first half (and a few in the second half too, some might sign!).

Since we're speaking in English, I have a strange question to ask you. There's this guy I know whose wife is about to have a baby. Don't you think it would be really funny if she gave birth and it was just a big pile of shit that LOOKED like a baby? I just love the idea of the doctor having to explain, "Hmm. I guess waste was slowly leaking from your bowels into your womb all this time. But you gotta admit - it sure LOOKS like a baby!"

On a related note, did you think it was hilarious today when I told Rich Bunnell that I didn't lose my virginity until I was 21 "unless you count rape, in which case lower it to like 6"? Or how about when I drew this little emoticon:
:7) 3 *
and then started raving about how "I'M GONNA FUCK THAT EMOTICON!!!!!" and then drew THIS little emoticon?
:7O 3 * C===============
I don't know - sometimes I feel like my parents shouldn't have taught me to read by chaining me under the house with 900 issues of Screw magazine.

Reader Comments
Not to be sycophantic, but you are right. The only problem with this otherwise amazing album is it's length--kind of like what you've depicted in your emoticon.

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Double Exposure EP (by Trans Champs) - Thrill Jockey 2001
Rating = 8

This duet with The Fucking Champs, though as short as Herve Villechaize, is nevertheless as great as Ricardo Montalban! Furthermore, the production is as professional as Christopher Hewitt, the rock mood is impressively `70sish as Wendy Schaal and whoever the hell is playing the guitar on here bares his soul as naked as Kimberly Beck. The disc starts off with a big Judas Priest British heavy metal tune confused into alternative rockness by its low-key Greg Sagey vocals, sways into an avant-rock sample-guitar-noise-synth Whitesnakey violiny dance suspenstrumental, burrows forth into a Jimmy Page-style acoustic impressive-fest of folk beauty and beauty flute - before a Cheap Trick harmony-guitar light metal version of same and brilliantly spooky new wave keyboard flapjack end the short record of smoot in a happenstance of curlywig. Bjoov!

So what we have are five very mature REAL-sounding songs full of great writing and playing - as well as lots of expert (wank) guitar solos that I assume are by the Champs guy since the Trans Am guy has definitely never played in quite such a classic rock music-your-Dad-would-love- and-think-of-as-serious style. I PERSONALLY think that making this record with the Frigging Yams made Trans Am realize how easily they could turn their lo-fi "ironic" approach into a professional full-sounding radio-ready masterpiece of ridiculousness (see next review), but don't put too much credence into the theory because usually everything I think is wrong (especially about JFK being assassinated by the Olsen Twins - I STILL don't know where I got THAT idea!).

(But I'll defend it until death because I know for a FACT that there was a second gunman. And who else could it be? That's right! The Olsen Twins!)

Reader Comments
dude, what's up with the craziest trans am website! your shit rocks. i found it cause i was looking for transchamps lyrics, cause they rule (the lyrics), and you were referencing berzerk influences and such? i caught two of them (what's a suspenstrumental?). my thoughts? the dual guitar attack on first song and then comes saturday is the clincher for me. feels like thin lizzy more than the fucking am. and other things that make me feel nice. go on with what you were doing. thanks

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T.A. - Thrill Jockey 2002
Rating = 9

Nathan Means "Business" told me in an interview you can find on this very site that CRITICS accused the band of being too silly on this CD. I don't think I have to tell you what part of my body CRITICS can smell if that's their attitude about artistic vision in today's scary Iraq War world. George R. Bush is about to launch 55 missiles into Baghdad, every country in the world except Britain hates us (specifically YOU, they told me) and we've changed the name of "French Fries" to "Freedom Fries" just like back during the Korean War when we changed all the little tags on our clothes to say "Made In Shitsville, Shitcountry." But we are not here to discuss Politics. We're here to explain why, according to Nathan "Living Above His" Means, the critics think this CD is too silly. Here's what I think:

Come on, concentrate! Use your psychic powers to enter my brain and uncover my very thoughts!

Why YES! That IS your grandfather naked! Good work!

As for the CD, Trans Am have *BECOME* what they used to "ironically" poke fun at. On this release, they are an `80s synth-pop-rock band. The production is perfect mid-80s, the vocals are smooth and faux- Brit and the songwriting is total New Order/Depeche Mode/Breakfast Club soundtrack/Nitzer Ebb ridiculousness. And it's FUCKIN' GRATE!!!!! An uproariously slicked up, seemingly serious (or IS it?) and catchy as hell recasting of Trans Am's youthful experimental electronic postrockism into what could honestly pass for slightly quirky alternative synth/guitar new wave-ish pop from 1984. (Even at its most Trans Ammy, this material could EASILY pass for Wall of Voodoo!). I love it. I love the Italian rap song "Basta," I love the Devo/Cars fast punkish wave of excitement "Run With Me," I love the dark bass/synth wash attack "C Sick," I love the straight guitar rocker "Positive People," I love the watery flanged funk bass and violin scraping of "Different Kind of Love" and I absolutely ADORE all the kooky distorted bouncy synth music I have cleverly found elsewhere on the release. (Listen BETWEEN the little pieces of digital code and you'll hear what I'm talking about)

If you're looking for postmodern ironic college music, you probably shouldn't get this CD. Because - even if they ARE joking (which remains to be seen - it sounds GOOD enough to be serious!), their joke is about a certain period of time that most people young and old have struggled for two decades to forget: The Reagan Years. When Ronald Reagan passed a law saying that he got to sing lead on every album anybody made. And it SUCKED SO BAD!!!! Aside from all the Rush albums which improved fifty-fold, it SUCKED SO BAD!!!!

Reader Comments (Adam Burt)
good call! indeed, contrary to what many critics would have you believe, this is a great record. admittedly, there are a couple tracks that I find a little hard to take, but who could deny how wonderful a song like "Cold War" is? your Breakfast Club soundtrack comparison is right on - I had the exact same thought when I first heard it. the next song sounds a lot like INXS, but it's good! I suppose if someone has a strong distaste for 80s pop nostalgia, they ought to steer away from this. me? I don't give a crap. I was a just a little lad throughout that decade. this is good stuff! not amateur-ish at all, I might add. very well done.
they peaked with future world, now they suck shit. and whats with the disco remixes of what was already disco rehash on the new TA remix record - how redundant!

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Extremixxx EP - Thrill Jockey 2002
Rating = 5

There's just not a whole lot of point to this. Six remixes of T.A. material; however, only THREE songs from that album are actually reworked. Instead of presenting a wide range of remixed tracks from that record, we get one "Infinite Wavelength," two "Cold War"s and THREE!!!! (!!!!!!) "Different Kind Of Love"s!!!! Who are the gas station attendants who came up with THIS idea?

Here's what's here: Tortoise's John Herdon chops up "Cold War" into a herky-jerky electronica headache bastard; Ann Arbor's Tadd Mullinix slows down the formerly punk-speed "Infinite Wavelength" and replaces the killer melody with ambient synthesizer tones; "Jonathan K" (who I assume is band pal and occasional guest keyboardist Jonathan Krienik) converts "Cold War" into a very cool rockin' fuzz dance track with an actual MELODY (instead of the one repeated note of the original); San Francisco-based hip hop producer and black man Dan Nakamura adds additional keyboard lines to "Different Kind Of Love," as well as boxing the ping-pong stereo drums into a traditional (boring) static hip-hop beat; and finally hip-hop producer/experimental artist Scott Herren sluggishly drags down the rhythm of that very same song I just named and adds in high-end synth tones and some new, extremely dark chord changes -- presenting his work in both normal and instrumental versions.

It's an interesting idea, I suppose, and the tracks certainly were fucked around with nice and good, but what's the point when only ONE remix (Jonathan K's "Cold War") is an actual improvement on the original? It's basically like what would happen if somebody took the Beatles' classic Let It Be LP and removed all the fun studio chatter and Phil Spector production. Can you imagine some asshole trying to get away with something like that? He'd be laughed all the way to the sperm bank!

Where he would then be broken down into his original sperm and egg and THROWN AWAY!

In separate containers to avoid being born again!

Because I hate fuckin' Christians!

It's always "man-on-top this, woman-on-bottom that, gotta-be-married this, no-69s that." FUCK YOU, ALTAMONT SPEEDWAY!!!

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Liberation - Thrill Jockey 2004
Rating = 8

America's favorite sports car is back at your ass for the '04 with a album for old fans. Possibly stung by accusations of suckassiness (with which I wholeheartedly disagree), the Ams retreated from the on-the-nose '80s nostalgia of Tits And Ass to go back to the sound the kids dig -- electronic music and funky bass/guitar hard technology rock. Consider this the "Back To The Known" of the Washington DC trio, if you're a huge, monstrous Bad Religion fag. Oops! I meant "fan"! Oops! I meant "fag!"

On this CD, Trans Ma finally admits to their Washington "Nation's Capital of Corruption" DC origins with a work somewhat focused around our current administration's "War On Terror," a disgusting propaganda machine geared towards idiots like Dennis Miller who think Bush is a "tough president" because the fucking pussy has the "guts" to send a bunch of kids he's never met to DIE in Irag. What "GUTS" that man has! Can I do that too? Will that make me tough if I hire a bunch of people to do my fighting for me? Bush is a piece of shit. I hope he gets murdered. I hope they ALL get murdered, the corrupt pieces of human garbage. Trans Am knows it. I know it. Al Franken knows it. Dennis Miller is a bearded pile of fuck.

But that's not fair, to focus a review on a shitty President. Let's talk about the music. Fantastic production! Beautiful phased bass and guitar tones, and a ton of excellent riffs and hooks, both bass-wise and keyboard-wise. This is definitely a return to their most appreciated sound, and fans confused by the last record will dig the hell out of it. The overall mood is pretty dark, to suit that of our current world situation. Only a few songs have lyrics, but a few others feature political samples pulled out of context and twisted into more honest interpretations (example: "The battle of Irag will destroy hospitals and schools."). One track is a 5-second Flipper sample. Another sounds like the intro to "Let My Love Open The Door." A third features high-speed bongos. A fourth plops a D.C. weather forecast on top of three synth notes, then speed manipulates the meteorologist's voice until his announcements are in the exact same KEY as the music!!!! I love Trans Am. I admit that I used to just be jealous of them, but I'll be fucked in the eye socket if they haven't turned out to be one fucking fantastic electro-rock band. Their hooks are hot, their tones are futuristic and wild, and their sense of humor is smart as hell (how else to explain song titles like "Pretty Close To The Edge" and "Is Trans Am Really Your Friend?"). Thank you, Trans Am, for "the beginning of the end of America."

Only complaints are that a few of the less evocative tracks are dragged on too long. But that's a pretty common thing with Trans Am. They probably do it just to piss my off off. Dance to the future of music, and leave your nu-metal on the coat rack. Trans Am are the voice of our nation's 30-year-olds.

Reader Comments (Jeff DeCuir)
This has been on my player non stop. By now I know exactly which tracks to skip for a smooth ride. Yes Mark, Trans Am gooooood, Bush baaaaad. (Larry Dolan)
You just made my day with your review of liberation. Your political commentary is exactly what I needed. - thanks (Michael J. West)
Sorry Marky, the forgotten Ramone and Menudo Groupie, but I just can't like this one all that much.

Maybe I'm just bored with the soapbox in general--and I say this as someone who hates Bush and lives in DC too, so I get to see Trans Am live all the time and hear these songs played over and over again--but it's just a little bit too preachy for me. Put it another way. Remember Frank Zappa's song "Porn Wars?" That one that's more interesting as a historical document than as an actual song? Yeah, this whole album is like that. Bleah.

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Gold (by The Fucking Am) - Drag City 2004
Rating = 7

Hide your wet spot when The Fucking Champs drive their Trans Am to town, because these guys ain't just shittin' Willie! With a flavorful hard rock attitude and a gasbag of inspiration from '70s heroes like Thin Lizzy, Boston, Deep Purple, Rush, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin, Status Quo and Jeff Beck, this monster truck of goodtime riffage brings all the harmonized leads, glam choogle, sci-fi synths, folk-prog and anthemic bombast you could hope to expect from people born after the Johnson administration. Speaking of which, what were voters thinking when they followed "Johnson" with "Dick" Nixon? See what happens when you give women the vote? Har har!

Only two of these eight songs have vocals, and one of those is guest vocals by some girl who sounds like Geddy Lee. But that's not the main problem. The main problem is that the centerpiece of the record is three variations on the same riff: "Acoustico Gomez," "Elastico Gomez" and "Electrico Gomez." Sure, the Am color each one in fairy tale dust to separate it from its neighbors: folk-prog, bass harmonics and locked harmonized guitar respectively. But it only takes a few seconds to realize you're being cheated into listening to a single 17-minute song. And who likes being cheated? Buttfucks and assholes, that's who! Furthermore, "Taking Liberties" is dumber than shit, and both "Bad Leg" and "Doing Research For An Autobiography" are just Thin Lizzy homages, one of which would've been plenty for an 8-track tape like Gold.

It's a good record with strong playing and excellent instrumental tones, and it rocks like only rock music can, but it would've been even better at half the length or twice the ideas. Is it asking too much for every band in the world to release only albums that appeal perfectly to my every individual quirk and whimsy? It's like they're a bunch of buttfucks and assholes!

Jarred Bariop
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Except For Buttfucks & Assholes (G.L.A.A.D.E.F.B.A.)

P.S. Don't forget the 21st Annual G.L.A.A.D.E.F.B.A. Media Awards ceremony, taking place here in New York next month. Please plan to attend! (But don't bring any BUTTFUCKS or ASSHOLES!)

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Sex Change - Thrill Jockey 2007
Rating = 8

Can you imagine a Trans Am/Canned Hamm double-bill? I'd shit a turd.

Although its racy title hints that our boys are finally following through on the promise of their band name (Transexual Amateurs), Sex Change turns out to just be another bunch of mostly-instrumental hook-filled melodic goodness gracious. The Internet tells us that they recorded this album using somebody else's equipment and that it represents a major departure from their previous work, but I perplexedly hear yet another strong, diverse collection of electronic pop/dance/rock/funk/alternative/disco songs. It might have a bit more guitar presence than their others, but I haven't done a side-by-side comparison or anything. How many stereos do you think I have?

Some of the many exclamations I jotted down while listening include "New wave! Guitar rock! Sex beat! Psychedelic! Disco! '80s Electro-pop! Pretty music! TV theme songs! Romance! Action! Grunge! Uptempo beats! Gap Band! Beautiful wordless vocal harmonies! Smashing Pumpkins! David Gilmour! Unrest! Happiness! Melancholy! Dance! Some of the endings drag on too long!" And all this is true and more.

Most importantly, however, are the melodies. Whether propelling your car through the '80s streets of Miami with nighttime synth-rocker "North East Rising Sun," soothing your pastoral morning soul with the early '70s Pink Floyd beauty of "First Words," kicking your headbanging loud-rock drone ass with "Conspiracy Of The Gods," making your memory weep with lost yesterdays at the echoing guitar swoops and nostalgic ambience of "4,738 Regrets," changing emotion eight different times in a single chord sequence in "Reprieve," announcing the opening credits of C.H.I.P.S. '07 with "Tesco v. Sainsbury's," or playing shitty grunge in "Shining Path," the.

Members of the Mark Prindle Fantasy Musical Band League might note that they invited Grant Tennille, another guy I knew in college, to play guitar on two songs. There were a couple days when my voicemail wasn't working, so that's probably what happened there. No doubt you'll see my credit ridin' high on their next release! Heh heh heh. oooooooooo

Hey, are you an important fancy lawyer, newscaster or politician? If so, do me a favor. I think it would be really great if lots of important people (lawyers, newscasters, politicians) would start using the word 'Abso-Smurf-ly' all the time. Just in normal conversation, without calling attention to it. Here, let me give you a few examples:

Judge: "Even though he was caught in the act of murdering his entire neighborhood, you're honestly trying to tell me that your client was just baking cookies for the handicapped?"
You, An Important Lawyer: "Abso-Smurf-ly, your honor. Those foolish people just ran into the path of his baking knife."

Some Asshole: "Hay, let's watch the news." (*turns TV on*)
You, An Important Newscaster: "Diane, that was abso-Smurf-ly the funniest rape story I've heard all week. In other news, a dog that can climb trees!"

Washington DC Newspaperman: "So what are your thoughts on Social Security?"
You, An Important Politician: "I don't know, but Valerie Plame is abso-Smurf-ly a CIA agent."

Make no mistake: I am no Smurfs fan by trade. I just enjoy the way that the resolute, determined, George Bush-like "Absolutely" is so easily converted into a puffy stupid little marshmallow word with the replacement of a single syllable. Also, saying it makes your mouth feel really awkward, which rules.

Returning to the car-monikered band at hand, Trans Am is very good at crafting intelligent, mature and stylistically diverse instrumental music for synthesizer, guitar and drums. If you're a Trans Am fan, Sex Change is a definite must-purchase; the beats are propulsive and the songwriting is (mostly) very strong. Also, there's this awesome horse on the back cover. He's just a drawing, but he's adorable and I love him.

The front cover, on the other hand, looks like somebody rubbed their dick in the fireplace and ran it up and down a piece of paper until it lopped off. Sex Change? More like SEX Change, if you adfkajegdsa gr

Reader Comments
As a long-time Trans Am fan, I find this the best thing they’ve done since Future World. The songs are just bracing. “Conspiracy of the Gods” sounds like a Joe Satriani track from ’87. My favorite Tans Am reference is about listening to a song on The Surveillance that sounded suspiciously like “The Song Remains the Same”. Then, I saw it was titled “The Campaign”…which my Zepfreak database-in-my-head reminded me was the original title for “The Song Remains the Same”!

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What Day Is It Tonight? Live 1993-2008 - Thrill Jockey 2009
Rating = 7

This live double-LP (which also comes with a DVD, but this review is audio-only) features Trans Am running through three songs each from Futureworld, The Red Line, Liberation and Sex Change, two from You Can Always Get What You Want, one each from Trans Am and T.A., zero each from Surrender To The Night and The Surveillance, and a dancey-beat growly-synth vocodey-sung non-LP tract called "Shrigley." The live sound is stunningly loud and much more muscular than their studio recordings, and the energy level is exceedingly high. However, they seem to drag the songs out something fierce a lot of the time, with extra guitar solos and delay-pedal flickity-flickies bleeding all the life out of what were once pleasingly tight and compact American ditties. I realize the performances probably didn't seem overlong at the time because the band and live audience were experiencing a collective "runner's high," but sitting here alone in my depressing computer chair and staring sadly at my computer screen of sorrow, I can't but think, "Okay, wind it up and get to the next song. What is this, a Grateful Dead ass-suck-a-thon?"

But I'm a giver. So I've come up with a list of ways that Trans Am can take their career to the next level and finally achieve the commercial success they've so desperately been chasing all these years. Here now the list:

1. New band name. The key 13-to-17-year-old music-buying demographic doesn't know what a Trans Am is. My suggestion: "Hyundai Genesis." If Hyundai threatens lawyers, change spelling to "Hunday Genesis." If Phil Collins threatens lawyers, go with "Hunday Geneziz."

2. Replace the three current members (or "oldies," as I call them, and correctly so) with a young female singer who dresses up in wild colorful outfits. Have her name legally changed to "Hunday Geneziz."

3. More vocals. Instrumentals went out with the passenger pigeon, which went extinct in 1984 shortly after Harold Faltermeyer's "Axel F" left the charts.

4. Enough irony. Nobody gets it; nobody needs it. This isn't the 'Slacker '90s' anymore. Sing your songs with conviction, and make them about falling in love.

5. Auto-tuned hip-hop breakdowns in the middle of each song.

6. Kanye West, unless people don't like him anymore. In that case, Jay-Z.

7. Suck more.

8. Write some country-western songs about America and freedom.

9. A few sessions with Desmond Child did wonders for Aerosmith. Think it over because he's still on the top of his game.

10. Make several large 'donations' to the Clear Channel Corporation.

11. Win a few Grammies. That'll kickstart those album sales!

12. Give it up and relaunch Lima with Mark Prindle. Talk about the 'Great Lost Rock Band'!

13. After discussing the 'Great Lost Rock Band,' disband Lima again.

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Thing - Thrill Jockey 2010
Rating = 4

If you know anything at all about me, you know I'm not about to say anything negative about Trans Am bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Nathan Means. The man is a saint, a genius, a former school chum, and the co-writer of "God Rules" and "Jobs Are An Asshole," arguably the two finest songs on Mark Prindle's Nature's Smelly Ass: Maxell Audiocassettes' 1998 Fall Sampler CD. I'll never forget all those nights we spent laughing, living and loving as we shared our hopes, fears and dreams while "hanging loose" in his Carmichael Hall dorm room. But time flies like a fruit bug and life split us apart like two peas in a pod that's being ripped apart by pirahna and a wolverine. Nevertheless, all these years later, I still haven't a negative word to say about Nathan Means, the perfect human.

Philip Manley and Sebastian Thomson, on the other hand -- Jesus, did one of those blue pricks from Avatar literally jump off the screen and SHIT in your MOUTH!? This is the worst fucking record I've ever heard! I hope to God your claim that Thing was originally meant to be the soundtrack to a sci-fi film is the truth, because either this CD is an understandably boring selection of spacey incidental music or you two were secretly given lobotomies during your last haircut.

Only two of these songs (sci-fi nerd rocker "Black Matter" and super-catchy single "Apparent Horizon") have lyrics, and they are by far the best songs on the record. They were probably written by Nathan Means, who used to date one of my college apartment mates. Most of the other ten, probably written by Philip Manley and Sebastian Thomson, are half-assed, underwritten instrumentals that seem more concerned with showing off the band's phaser pedal than bringing any new musical ideas into the world.

Here, check out my handwritten notes for each track:

1. "Please Wait" - Pointless ambience. Low groany drones, a woman talking, doomy thunder and swishling. Probably written by Philip Manley and Sebastian Thomson.

2. "Black Matter" - Hawkwindy fuzzed-out synth prog! Great stuff -- exactly what you'd expect from a consummate artist like Nathan Means!

3. "Naked Singularity" - The funny wiggly fuzz notes and low booming bass thing are classic Nathan Means, but the song drags on for far too long, probably at the behest of Philip Manley and Sebastian Thomson.

4. "Thing" - A minute of boring echoey synth notes. This has "Philip Manley and Sebastian Thomson" written all over it.

5. "Bad Vibes" - Electronic noises, synths and "Tom Sawyer" phase effect. Come on, Philip Manley and Sebastian Thomson, write some fucking music, assholes!

6. "Heaven's Gate" - Trans Am tries to be Lightning Bolt, but neglects to play actual music. Nathan Means was probably begging the other guys to let him play some killer bass riffs, but they wouldn't let him. "No way," likely said Philip Manley. "We want this album to suck, not be good," I imagine continued Sebastian Thomson.

7. "The Silent Star" - Two phased-out chords of nothingness and drums. Maybe a friend of Nathan Means had taken ill and he was too distraught to take part in most of the album's songwriting. In fact, I'm certain that's what happened.

8. "Arcadia" - A "Ride The White Horse"-style bip-bop-bip '80s synth line, but far inferior to that legendary Laid Back classic. Another 'Epic Fail' for Messrs. Manley and Thomson. Or maybe one of the engineers. Anyone but Nathan Means, really.

9. "Apparent Horizon" - Nathan Means was solely responsible for this great single, which he recorded alone as a solo project, I expect.

10. "Interstellar Drift" - The cheesy "Too Much Time On My Hands"-style synth line contributed by Philip Manley and Sebastian Thomson I'd have to bet can't totally destroy the excellent light-to-dark acoustic chord sequence, which under normal circumstances would be performed by Philip Manley, the guitarist of the band, but it's good so Nathan did it.

11. "Maximum Yield" - Loud boomy heavy bassy distorted Nathan Means but not a very catchy Philip Manley and Sebastian Thomson.

12. "Space Dock" - Nathan Means!

I realize that Trans Am's early material was fairly minimalist, but this shit goes beyond minimalist -- I'd be hard pressed to even call most of it "music'! Any pud with a phaser pedal could've written half of these tracks by wiggling his dick in the road, and probably did! Thanks for nothing, everybody in the world except Nathan Means, who rules.

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