ALBUM REVIEW: Spam Allstars – Trans-Oceanic
I’ve been hanging out at City of Progress Studios a lot this year working on the new Pookiesmackers record and I am so enjoying the chit/chat, electronic and gear experimentation and pauses to spin a record of reference that I sometimes forget we are making our own recording. City of Progress is the home studio of Andrew Yeomanson whom wears many capes and goes by the stage name of DJ LeSpam. His DJ sets are poignant and a lesson of history and sound, his tricked out VW Bus is the equivalent of a Jamaican Sound System on wheels and the collective he plays in is basically the quintessential sound of Miami. I am proud to call him a peer and dare I say he’s legendary in his own right.
Hanging out there you never know when Lang Cook is going to pop through the door to work on a new song or Willie Clarke is going to call on the phone with his newest dream scheme. The boxes of Arthur Baker’s 2-inch master tapes for transfer are mind boggling. Andrew handles this all by being one of the busiest DJ’s and circuit workers with the Spam Allstars out there. I have no idea how he ever finds time to capture his own band’s sound but this is what this piece is about.
Trans-Oceanic is the title of the band’s new record and it somewhat comes from the name of an old Zenith shortwave radio that could receive sound waves or broadcasts across land and sea. The title is appropriate for the sound Spam Allstars make. Music that is so Miami but borrows from around the globe.
The record starts off with a radio broadcast of water and weather conditions of Biscayne Bay and although the report is choppy this instrumental is smooth as silk. Classic Allstars horns and beat with some twangy guitar, breakdowns and a funky ass keyboard groove that will make you jump in your car, roll down the windows or peel back the convertible and go for a ride in the warm breeze by the bay.
Then we head straight for Little Havana with the tease and tickle of “Cosquilla”. I feel like I am cruising down Calle Ocho with the core band all hanging out of the rag top. Chad, Mercedes, Tomas, Jose, A.J., Steve and Ted with LeSpam at the wheel and the speaker system blaring. Miami bass, latin percussion, Spanish singing and a trumpet solo to boot.
The funk in your face of track 3 “Ruby Carat” is accented by violins. Everyone’s head is bouncing now and I think the back of the car is too. It is so “horny” that I am not sure we are still in Miami or tripping through the Big Easy. This ends side one with an oh so familiar door bell chime and I know I’m home.
The door opens and side 2 hits you with an A.J. Hill penned Meters sounding song named “Satellite”. These cats have ported in the land of the Saints brothers and sisters, bam!
Now it is time for a trip “Around the Track” which has a feel of the theme to 70’s TV show S.W.A.T. on a colada. Monster guitar, badass beats and horns, horns, horns, fuck yeah.
The record ends off with a Yeomanson penned slow jam to cool things down. A return of the violins and a synth heavy tone. You got to use all that magic in City of Progress Studios. It is a hypnotizing pace and a good return from the hot and humid voyage.
The CD contains an extra tune “Agua De Poco” which gives an alternate ending to this classic. I feel we have somehow crossed the ocean with this song and ended up in Fela’s Lair. It’s Trans-Oceanic.
I can not write this piece without mentioning while hanging at the studio the home roasted Ethiopian espresso LeSpam presses out for any and all’s amazement. The delicious food from Dita to devour. Farah the front door welcoming cat and Fuzzface the cat who let’s you know the final mix is just right. Also I have to mention the fabuloso album cover art by the infamous Francesco Lo Castro.
Come celebrate this grand release, Saturday April 29th at 7pm at the lovely North Beach Bandshell at 7275 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach.