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Trans AM


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Washington, D.C. (1990 – present)

Trans Am are loosely associated with the mid-’90s scene centered around Tortoise, Ui, Labradford, Windy & Carl, etc., and the Thrill Jockey, Kranky, UHF and Southern labels, among others. Although a vast distance separates Trans Am’s albums, all of them are concerned with an extreme, somewhat humorous reorientation of the clichés and conventions of rock music, primarily through either technical (exaggerated displays of skill) or instrumental (electronics, effects) deviation.

The group formed in 1990 in Washington, D.C., though they didn’t begin seriously recording until after its members finished college in 1995. The members of the band are: Philip Manley (guitar, bass, keyboard, voice), Nathan Means (bass, keys, voice), and Sebastian Thomson (drums, guitar, bass, keys, voice). Their self-titled debut, on the Chicago-based Thrill Jockey label, was recorded after just a few rehearsals back together, and contained , largely improvised versions of simple rock-oriented figures based loosely on ’70s and ’80s popular and bands such as Boston, Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Yes. Produced by Tortoise’s John McEntire at Chicago’s Idful Studios, the album was instantly lauded as an example of “post-rock”, in turn leading to a short live tour as Tortoise’s opening act.

The group returned in the fall of 1996 with a self-titled EP of somewhat experiments (released by Happy Go Lucky) that brought to the fore an affection for electronics previously reserved either for between-time studio distraction or the brief interludes separating the meatier segments of their debut.


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