The album represented the most collaborative writing session between Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays up to that point in the band's history. According to Metheny, this yielded mixed results. He has said that the album's second track, "Airstream," is a favorite from this period. But both he and Mays have expressed less praise for the fifth and final track, "The Epic", which Metheny has claimed, "is all over the map."
American Garage marked Mays' first use of the Oberheim synthesizer, which became an integral part of the Group's sound.