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Spam Allstars: Trans-Oceanic

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

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.

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.

RATING 7 / 10