TransChamps Double Exposure

Although San Francisco's the Fucking Champs are constantly compared to Washington DC's Trans Am, the two bands have really gone in quite separate directions lately. The Fucking Champs have pursued their homage to progressive metal while Trans Am has perfected their harsh robotic and rhythmic landscapes. On the other hand, neither trio has ever let themselves be musically limited and both are known for their supreme genre grating. While Fucking Champs guitarist Tim Green has his solo electronic Concentrick project, Trans Am have lapsed back into some of their earlier guitar-driven material on last year's Red Line album. Now we get a full-on collaboration between the bands that has been in the works since '98. What results is a crazy mélange of influences sure to please fans of either band, though the consistency of strong melodies tips the scales toward the Fucking Champs' modus operandi. The EP's opener, "Give It To You," kicks prog metal ass, complete with its '70s-inspired dim-witted lyric. The most Trans Am-like of tracks is "The Big Machine," with its minimalist beat excursion and ambient melodies reminiscent of David Bowie and Brian Eno's collaborative '70s work, while a wild guitar wank enters mid-stream to spice things up. The recording's centrepiece is the double hit of "First Comes Sunday Morning" and "Then Comes Saturday Night," which begins with what would be the album's ballad, except for the fact that the song doesn't have any lyrics. A beautiful acoustic guitar melody is augmented by flute and all is pastoral until the same melody moves to electric extremes with chorusing guitars and some of that lightening fast soloing that makes the Champs so much fun. Think of Iron Maiden playing Bread - simply astonishing! Thankfully, the two bands are already at work on a collaborative release for 2002. (Thrill Jockey)