Music News

Trans Am

There's never been the slightest doubt that Trans Am drivers Nathan Means, Phil Manley and Sebastian Thomson have a sense of humor. But the question remains: When are they joking? Founded in 1990, the band has a lengthy discography stuffed with electro-oriented tracks that alternately encompass homage, pastiche and loving satire. Sex Change, released earlier this year on the act's longtime label, Thrill Jockey, is a case in point. While "North East Rising Sun" plays it comparatively straight, merging danceable beats with a persuasively psychedelic melody, "Climbing Up the Ladder (Parts III and IV)" launches tongue into cheek with help from a consciously dopey disco beat, strip-club guitar, studio effects reminiscent of '50s sci-fi flicks and occasional vocoder snippets that are more Cameo than T-Pain. The combination has won Trans Am fans like Maynard James Keenan, who chose the group to open for his main band, Tool, on its current tour (this Larimer Lounge date is being squeezed into an off day). Looks like Trans Am's oddball wit is starting to pay off.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts