Formed in Adelaide in 2007, funk eight-piece The Transatlantics are only fresh to the scene, but well known amongst those with a penchant for soul and groove. Now, in 2010, the Transatlantics have released their long awaited debut album on the UK’s Freestyle Records.
Funk and soul have undergone a kind of unnoticed resurgence of late. With acts like My Brightest Diamond and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings crossing over from funk, groove and Rhythm & Blues crowds into the indie mainstream without so much as the flutter of an eyelash, no one seems to have stopped and wondered what the hell they’re doing on the same indie compilations as acts like Yeasayer and The National. Again, in Australia, The Bamboos have become a tour de force in their own right, featuring on Triple J and generally creating a buzz amongst an increasingly younger crowd, whilst Adelaide’s The Transatlantics have had more than a whisper follow their festival slots at Falls, the Big Day Out and Playground Weekender. These names dabble exclusively in old-time funk and soul, characterised by sweeping rhythm sections, blasting horns, guitar solos with searing bends and a female voice with the lung capacity of a petrol tank, yet people are listening with skinny jeans and fashionable moustaches. It’s bamboozling, uh, transatlincsing…you get what I mean.
This isn’t a deep social commentary on the revival of funk though, it’s an album review; of the Transatlantics debut no less. Shot out of the mouth of Adelaide and onto stages nation wide, the South Australian eight-piece were united under a love of yesteryear and began to play music reminiscent of anyone from James Brown to Sharon Jones, and it wasn’t long before word started to spread. The sight of a few hundred fluoro shirted Playground Weekender attendees writhing in the sun in front of the Transatlantics last year is one that’s not easily forgotten and the steady, breathless attendance at ensuing shows spoke volumes also of what this act was all about. Now, with all that behind them and endless more ahead, the Transatlantics have released their self-titled debut…and it’s everything you thought it would be.
The album is an enjoyable listen from start to finish, with the raw power of lead-woman Tara Lynch commanding the exact rhythm and lead ensemble you’d expect from a band like this to faultless consequence. From the Brown-esque Keep on Running to their surprising cover of the Preset’s Talk Like That, the Transatlantics have put together a brilliant set of tracks that completely harnesses their high energy live shows. Low key soul moments like That’s When I Feel So Lonely are just as powerful as the blistering funk of Thumbin’ It as is the lolloping Turn You Loose. The Transatlantics deserve endless credit for consistency, quality and old-fashioned good times, proving that they can impress just as much through your ear phones as they can from the stage.
Of course, the album is a very strict genre album, if you can say that about an album that crosses two or three genre’s. To someone unfamiliar with the two, this could just as easily have been labelled an album by The Bamboos – or Sharon Jones for that matter – without anyone lifting a finger of correction. If you wanted to go that far, you could print it to vinyl, smear it with dust, hide it in an op shop and one of the only giveaways would be the Presets cover once you turn to side two. It’s in no way a groundbreaking album, but obviously, it never tries to be. It’s an homage to the sounds which make these guys excited about music, and it’s that passion and enthusiasm which is so contagious about this record. If you get this album, I put an absolutely seal of guarantee that your head will be bobbing at least once and failing that, you’ll be wearing a hole in the sole of your shoe with a tapping foot. It may not be 2010’s breakthrough record, but it’s damn effective at delivering a groove.
The Transatlantics self-titled debut is out now on Freestyle Records.