TJ Byrnes is the mastermind behind the musical project, Transmission Party. His latest EP, “Transmission Party ’11” is available for free download via his website. The EP was entirely recorded, mixed, and produced by TJ himself in his bedroom studio.
When I first listened to Transmission Party, it felt like I was listening to the soundtrack to “Across the Universe.” The EP has the trippy vibe that the Beatles conveyed back in the 1960s, but with a more modern and technologically-advanced polish. And that was essentially what Byrnes was going for. Byrnes says that the inspiration for the first song, “Right Left Good Bad” came from many older bands, such as The Who and The Kooks. Lyrically, the song is similar to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” with its self-deprecating words:
If it’s just a joke
The joke’s on me
“Right Left Good Bad” sets the tone of “Transmission Party ’11” being an antitypical pop-rock album. The song leads into “(You’re My) Lighthouse,” which initially sounds like another Beatles-inspired track. But upon closer listen, it’s more of a Beach Boys tune (especially considering its lighthouse metaphor). Byrnes notes that his main influence for this song was chief songwriter of the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson. And anybody who has even listened to any Beach Boys song–“Kokomo,” “Kiss Me Baby,” “When a Man Needs a Woman,” “Good Vibrations (not by Wilson, but still)–will hear the influence in “Lighthouse.” Byrnes did well to pay respectful homage to Wilson, rather than turn the song into a farce. He arranges the instrumentals well and uses words that you could imagine hearing Wilson coming up with himself back in the 60s. It’s a perfectly beachy, slowed-down surf-rock song. It’s the token “love song” on the album but it doesn’t go completely cheesy, and you can tell from the lyrics and the overall sound that it’s a cool and memorable track.
Next up is “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me.” For some reason, this song sounds like I’ve heard it before. Like it’s been written before. Obviously not, but it just sounds like something I could dig up in my mom’s record collection.
Clearly Byrnes has loose influences in this song so it’s not surprising that it sounds familiar, but it does get a little oldies-station-ish. That said, Byrnes accomplishes the whole Talking Heads instrumental sound (see “Take Me To the River”; ignore the vocals).
The EP ends with “Boredom,” which was literally written when Byrnes was bored. It’s a pretty straightforward song. Though I will admit it is totally creepy. But creepy in a good way. It’s a good wrap-up for the EP because it incorporates all the facets of a trippy, Beatles-esque, instrumentally-accomplished, and lyrically-talented song. It’s just as zany and psychedelic as the Beatles hit, “I Am the Walrus.” If you are into the freaky psychedelia of “I Am the Walrus”, you’ll love this song. Otherwise, the beat alone will give the creeps.
Personally, I love the EP. It’s perfect for anyone who still hopes for a Beach Boys reunion, or who plays Beatles and Kooks albums while their friends listen to the normal pop music. Teens/young adults may find the vintage feel of the songs unique and intriguing, while parents won’t be embarrassed enjoying the music that is inspired by their generation. All around, it’s refreshing to hear the new and exceptional talent heard on this EP.
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