About the Artist
The band started playing together as Transformer Lootbag in early 1996, and based themselves in Madison, Wisconsin. Since then, Matt Abplanalp (drums), Steven Riches (bass, vocals), and Ricky Riemer (guitar, vocals) have released songs on internationally distributed compilations, singles and home-produced recordings. They have shared stages with Mudhoney, Mike Watt, U.S. Maple, and Melt Banana. TLB's debut 9-song CD was recorded entirely by the band members in their basement studio, and then mixed at Smart Studios in Madison by Mike Zirkel. This self-titled record, Transformer Lootbag, was officially released on January 11, 2003.
Transformer Lootbag's sound is a puzzle-like configuration of high-intensity, sometimes anxious, art rock pieced together with off-kilter, stop-start dynamics that, somehow, never falls short of catchy. Bright, syncopated drumming merged with skewed, but driving guitars and intense, sporadic bass lines are accompanied by semi-aggressive vocals and occasional moog. The whole package is a taste in and of itself, but could be compared to bands such as Minutemen, Brainiac and Fugazi.
KFJC 89.7 FM
Debut from Madison, Wisconsin trio on the guitarist’s (Ricky Riemer’s) label. Punchy guitarwork carmelizes this sugar crunchy pop. I hear XTC, Bob Mould, Pixies, Woozy Helmet, Kaito. Shouty vocals are very condensed, (with effects) Riemer and bassist Steven Riches trade duties, often firing lyrics that overlap each other. That helps give this music an insistent feel, along w/ Matt Abplanalp’s racy drums. Actually what Abplanalp does well is to drop out a beat or two sometimes and let Riemer’s guitar whiplash a bit. That’s especially vivid on the last track, which has some sort of nice whammy on that guitar too…and then the faux runout groove to boot. Shake your Lootbag.
The Austin Chronicle
Madison, Wis.'s Transformer Lootbag sounds like a dangerously unbalanced Ferris wheel translated into pop music. The dexterous trio's proclivity for rapid-fire, herky-jerk dynamics conjures visions of Fugazi coupled with Akron-era Devo. They just released their eponymous debut on Science of Sound.