Let’s set the scene: a shabby basement or garage, littered with empty cans of shit beer, drums in the corner, a guitar, amp and a Memory Man echoplex approximately marked to the same settings used by Guided By Voices for “Hot Freaks” from Bee Thousand. Enter two twenty-somethings reared on lo-fi rock from America’s rust belt.
Less than 30 minutes later, the pair have recorded 20 songs with titles like “Weed Tunnel” and “Best Idea Generation.”
The latter song provides the title of the debut album from Trans Charger Metropolis, a Red Bank, New Jersey duo composed of Justin Normandy and Ryan Schaefer.
Right out of the gate with “A Less Dense Dimension” the GBV influence is evident: faux British accent, chugging guitar, a melody and vocal refrain cobbled together from various classic lineup era tracks.
Whereas Pollard and Sprout recorded Bee Thousand directly to tape in the early ’90s, Normandy and Schaefer have the luxury of computers, digital samples and non-studio time to labor over the engineering and production process. The horns on “The Wolves are Out” is one such example, as are the strings on “From Archery To Argonaut.” Multitracked vocals fill out their sound on songs like “Dead Satellite.”
College writing professors urge students to mimic their literary idols in order to learn the basics of the craft. This apprenticeship also applies to rock music. You can’t fault the boys for cribbing lyrics and phrases from GBV when Robert Pollard himself has co-opted 75% of the Oxford English Dictionary. However, the similarities are at times too direct to be coincidence. Paying homage is one thing; plagiarism is another. GBV got it right by molding their varied (mostly British) influences and naïveté into a unique American art form. On this first outing, Trans Charger Metropolis relies too much on copying the template that is Bee Thousand.
Best Idea Generation is a fun listen. The labor that went into its creation can be clearly heard. Yet one must wonder if the end product was the goal or if the presumed process by which it was derived (see first paragraph) was more important. Let’s hope Trans Charger Metropolis continues to listen to professors other than Robert Pollard so they, as a band, can find its own voice and leave the tributes to bands like The Textbook Committee.
Listen and download Best Idea Generation from Trans Charger Metropolis below:
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