Combining synth/funk grooves with rock instrumentation, Trans Am provided soundtracks to the future ever since their inception in the early 90s. Genre-wise, the band is often placed in the same category as Tortoise, UI, Labradford and similar bands. They also opened for Tortoise in the mid 90s and Tortoise member John McEntire produced their debut album.
Although TA formed in the early 90s, it wasn’t until band members graduated from college that the band recorded their selt-titled debut. All Music Guide described it as “big dumb rock of the tongue-in-cheek variety” with plenty of licks inspired by Boston and Foreigner.
1997 brought “Surrender to The Night”, which sounded a lot like “rock’s longtime nemesis, the late-’70s pre-techno Euro-pop of Kraftwerk and New Order.”, according to AMG. 1999 “Futureworld” was described by them as the band’s most diverse and accomplished work yet and a perfect showcase of “the band’s love of retro-futurism and, above all, rock.”
New millennium saw the release of 2000 “The Red Line”, 2004 “Liberation” and 2007 “Sex Change” among other material. The band’s most recent work (as of 2010) is “Thing”, which came out on Thrill Jockey label.
AMG commented on “Thing” – “Thing may be Trans Am’s most prog rock-influenced album yet; it comes complete with the majestic fanfare of “Please Wait” as well as plenty of drum solos and spooky atmospheres. Electronic textures that blur the line between eerie and sleazy dominate tracks as far-flung as “Arcadia”’s pretty-yet-creepy dance-punk and the viscous “Bad Vibes,” which boasts squealing and streaking synths that recall the earliest electronic recordings and dark, blobby tones that suggest lava lamps filled with tar.”
In addition to Trans Am, band members also played with Golden and Weird War. Sebastian Thomson also recorded one self-titled album under the moniker Frequency. Trans Am also collaborated with Fucking Champs on multiple releases, including 2001 “Double Exposure” (recorded under the name TransChamps) and 2004 “Gold” (recorded under the name Fucking Am).
Phil Manley (Golden)
Trans Am 10″ (City Slang, 1995)
Trans Am CD / LP / 10″ (Thrill Jockey, 1995 / City Slang, 1995 / Tokuma Japan Communications, 1996)
Illegal Ass 12″ (Happy Go Lucky, 1996)
Trans Am / Wingtip Sloat Split 12″ (Tuba Frenzy, 1996)
Surrender To The Night CD / LP (City Slang, 1997 / Thrill Jockey, 1997)
The Surveillance CD / LP (City Slang, 1998 / Thrill Jockey, 1998)
Futureworld CD / LP (Thrill Jockey, 1999)
Who Do We Think You Are? CD (Spunk, 1999)
Red Line CD / 2xLP (Thrill Jockey, 2000 / Tokuma Japan Communications, 2000 / Trama, 2001)
You Can Always Get What You Want CD (Thrill Jockey, 2000)
Extremixxx CD (Thrill Jockey, 2002)
TA CD / LP (Thrill Jockey, 2002)
Liberation CD / LP (Thrill Jockey, 2004)
Sex Change CD / LP (Thrill Jockey, 2007)
What Day Is It Tonight? (Trans Am Live 1993-2008) 2XLP + DVD (Thrill Jockey, 2009)
Thing CD / LP (Thrill Jockey, 2010)
Selected Compilation Tracks:
“Cologne” on Golden Moments Of City Slang (Running Circle, 1996)
“Starjammer” on In Memorial Gilles Deleuze (Mille Plateaux, 1996)
“Ballbados” on Mind The Gap Volume 9 (Gonzo Circus Magazine, 1996)
“Carboforce” on Golden Moments – City Slang 1996/97 (City Slang, 1997)
“Home Security” on Wow! & Flutter (Too Pure + City Slang, 1997)
“City In Flames” on Rough Cuts Music For Films (Rough Trade Publishing, 1999)
“I’m Coming Down” on Noise Annoys Volume 1 (Kerrang! Magazine, 2001)