Spam Allstars: Trans-Oceanic

Photo courtesy of artist Facebook

The tropical funk of the future is here, and it knows no bounds.

The tropical funk of the future is here on Trans-Oceanic, a blast of music from Miami. The nine members of the Spam Allstars work together like a well-oiled machine, but they're more fun, and they make for a much better party. It's the kind of album that reminds you why people go to Florida in the first place.

Spam Allstars


Label: Spamusica
US Release Date: 2016-10-07
UK Release Date: 2016-10-07
Artist website

One of the most obvious influences in the Spam Allstars' oeuvre is Cuban big band music. They harken back to the dancefloor brass of the '50s and '60s, but there's nothing overly vintage about this group's electrified grooves. The album kicks off with the title track, a cool, midtempo number anchored by heavy synths and chill handclaps. It's a good warm-up for the heat that comes next as the band launches into "Cosquilla". That's where things start getting a little steamier, speeding up and going from relaxation to rumba. Here, the rhythms sound ready for the ballroom, the guitar-driven melody infectious and intricate. It's one of the highlights of the all-too-short album—a fresh take on classic sounds.

A second highlight is right in the middle of the seven tracks: "Satellite", a ferociously soulful song with a deep funk sensibility and bold vocals. Synths and bass make an unstoppable combination in the background, and a fuzzy guitar solo makes this song the best kind of dirty. A catchy chorus and fiery brass finish it off and cement it as the most exciting cut off the album.

Every track is full of good vibrations and a lot of heart, and each member of the group gets a number of chances to shine, even though there are more of them than there are songs. On instrumental piece "La Concha", violins lead the way for a stinging blues guitar, while on final track "Agua de Poço", electronic effects enhance far-out synths and earthy hand percussion all at the same time. By the end of the track, the ballroom has become a modern-day nightclub as brass and synthesizer reach dizzying heights.

Versatility is Spam Allstars' greatest asset, and what they accomplish in seven tracks is something many groups take several albums to achieve: a unified style that still manages to travel in half a dozen directions. The group dynamic plays an important part in this; most of the group has been together for a couple of decades, and the rest still contribute to a tight playing style. No matter where they go with each song that bond keeps them on a steady course.

Beyond that, it helps that their music is so rich, that each song on the album has an uncommonly high concentration of high-quality sound. It's island music, space music, beach music, and rock music all at once, and each minute bursts with this heady mixture of genres. Trans-Oceanic is an album for parades and parties alike, one made with the hopes of bringing a little more brightness to the lives of anyone who listens. It's what the Spam Allstars do, and they do it without limits.






The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.