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Those Transatlantics

Moving toward you at a speed of 47 mph is a train pulled by an Alco diesel-electric locomotive that was built in 1926. It is fuchsia and turquoise – two colors you didn’t even know existed back then.

The six cars immediately behind the engine are filled with children’s books from the 40s and 50s.  You know, the kind with the three-color screen-printed illustrations – blue, green, orange – none of which line up quite right with their thin, black outlines.

And, the five cars in back (just in front of the caboose, which to your disappointment isn’t red) are stacked with paperback murder mysteries somebody’s grandmother had accumulated, one per week, from the local Five and Dime, right up until the day she died.  That dime store died too, a murder mystery in its own right. One that’s far too common.

Between these mobile libraries, on a flatbed car of their very own, are the members of Those Transatlantics.  They’re doing their best to sing an ambitious three-part harmony from the title track of their new record, Civil like The War:

As the Boys sing at last:
“We are all outnumbered!”
And the Children laugh.
We take apart our hand-held matches
And turning out our thumbs,
Point them at each other, then we’ve
Turned them into guns!
Aaaah! Aaaah!

You are standing 24 feet from the edge of the tracks, contemplating throwing yourself across them because, for some reason, the idea seems romantic. If it weren’t for your indecisiveness, you’d already be lying there. After all, your capable mind has accepted the fact that the kinetic energy involved in the upcoming series of moments will claim your life, regardless of the prayers and less-genuine efforts from those on board the train.

You can already feel the earth trembling beneath your feet.  It’s decision time.

As the train approaches, passing the grain elevator (which died with your great-grandfather at the edge of the depot grounds), you lay yourself down atop a railroad tie.  You find that the partially rotted wood sinks beneath the weight of your torso, cradling you comfortably.  Your head rests on the northernmost rail (it feels alive with vibration), and you find it perfectly ironic that the cool sweat in your stubbly hairdo makes the top of your head feel like it’s covered with moss.  Your eyes are looking up at the copper eaves of the depot, when you are distracted by a flock of multi-colored birds.  There are eight of them and they take up the band’s high harmony. You don’t have much time to wonder where they’re from, where they’re headed, or how they know the melody.

The engineer has already given up on his air horn, leaving nothing but the band to serenade you through these final few seconds. It’s a different song now, this time without harmony – the birds are silent, resting their wings on an updraft:

Finally finished,
Like paper dishes.
And still coming down.
Old resolutions had all been written,
leaving the music with no sound.
It must have been winter.
It must have been something,
that was said with no one around.

Oh my goodness! The train is upon you and you before you even realize it.  Your last few seconds are spent hearing and seeing, but not [physically] feeling.  It just doesn’t seem real!

Maybe that’s why they call it dream pop?

Kathleen Bracken (voice)
Michael Spence (guitar/voice/percussion/keyboard)
Trevor Waldron (percussion/keyboard/voice)
Dan Louisell (keyboard/voice/guitar/percussion)
Nate King (bass/voice)

Facts about Civil like The War:
Release Date: March 23, 2010
Format: CD w/ 7-inch single
UPC:   884502399349
Catalog #: GPR-1010

Points of Interest

Civil like The War was recorded by Dan Hubbell and Steve Gilray (Mitch Rider & the Detroit Wheels, The Rockets) @ Woodshop Studio in Mt. Pleasant, MI and mixed by Dave Feeny (Blanche, Loretta Lynn, American Mars, Small Brown Bike, the Hard Lessons) @ Tempermill in Ferndale, MI

Released on Gangplank Records (American Mars, Blanche, LaSalle, Friendly Foes, Sunshine Doray)

Album art by Detroit painter Daniel Stewart (

Those Transatlantics have shared the stage with many great groups, including: Elf Power, Viva Voce, Amy Mann, Anathallo, Underoath, Thunderbirds are Now!, and many more

Those Transatatlantics released their debut LP, Knocked Out, on Detroit’s Suburban Sprawl Music, which was preceded by two self-released EPs.

We like to make people dance, but we aren’t dancy. Is that confusing?


“Those Transatlantics claim The Beatles, The Cardigans and The New Pornographers as the shared influences that brought them together, so it should come as no surprise that their music is the sonic equivalent of an ice-cold glass of lemonade on a summer day.” – NPR’s The World Cafe

“[The band] displays a number of high caliber touchstones: mid-period Beatles hook riffing, a bit of Broken Social Scenes intimacy writ large, passages of The Shins we’ve-been-hurt-but-we’re-going-to- get-happy-again-anyway exuberance and some of Saturday Looks Good To Me’s studied retro-pop celebration.” – Real Detroit Weekly

“America’s answer to The New Pornographers.” – Paste

“The lush harmonies and orchestral pop-rock of Michigan’s Those Transatlantics sometimes recall The Cowsills and The Monkees, but the updated sonic textures minimize the retro potential.” – Nashville Scene

“The band is pop, but with a down-home vibe. There is nothing pretentious or presumptuous about the band’s sound.” – Lansing Noise

“The band continues to forward Brian Wilson’s pop dream.” – Indianapolis Intake