Band: The Midnight Ghost Train
Album: Cyprus Ave.
Release Date: 28th July, 2017
Label: Napalm Records
Review by Sean
So, Carlos Santana woke up one morning pissed off and mad as all Hell about it, and so he decided to write an album full of anger. That’s essentially what we have here with the latest release from excellent Kansas-based three piece The Midnight Ghost Train. It’s chock full of influences, from the aforementioned Santana, to a Fun Lovin’ Criminals sound here and there, and some rather excellent stoner influence too.
Album opener ‘Tonight’ starts off with quite a soulful guitar intro, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it was actually Santana and Rob Smith trying to recreate a past glory (last reference, I swear), but then the electric guitar kicks in to wake you up, before the verse starts up, and it’s back to soulful blues. It’s a great opening track, but one criticism I have, and it’s REALLY nitpicking to say this, is that to me the verse vocal structure sounds quite similar to ‘The Pretender’ by the Foo Fighters. As I said though, I’m nitpicking, and it’s a belting opener that brings former fans right back to what TMGT can do, and lets new listeners really get to grips with what the band are capable of.
Second track ‘Red Eyed Junkie Queen’ kicks off with a ca-HUNT of a bass line that overpowers the remainder of the song, and that’s just how stoner stuff should sound. Fucking kudos to bassist Alfred Jordan for that, and more kudos to singer/guitarist Steve Moss, going for the full sound of early Grand Magus, turned up to eleven. Definite for a pick of the album for me.
‘Glenn’s Promise’ has quite the jarring drum/reverb heavy guitar intro, but soon kicks into the song proper with a groove that just moves you. Seriously, I was sat next to my speakers and started moving. This is some heavy groove, and it’s fucking glorious. Fuck me the bass sound on show on this entire album is sublime, but here it really shines through.
Following that we have ‘Bury Me Deep’, a trip further into the stoner rock/metal side of things, a classic stoner rock song.
Slowing things down for a little bit, is ‘The Watcher’s Nest’. It’s a sombre number and is another pick of the album for me, because I do love a sad song, because I’m a miserable bastard. IT does pick up though in the latter stages of the song, in sort of a half breakdown half jam session sort of thing. Excellent song though.
What happens next, is, quite frankly, a little bizarre sounding compared to the rest of the album, but I fucking love it. It’s a song called ‘Break My Love’, and compared to the rest of the album, it’s VERY minimalist. Just the most basic of bass, alongside a simple drum beat and vocals. It’s weird and it’s odd and I love it. It’s almost folk music, if not for the gravelly voice and lyrics. Think Duo De Twang (Les Claypool side project) without the humour.
‘Lemon Trees’ brings us back to the album again after that strange interval, it’s another slower, more soulful one, but the lyrics maintain their darker edge. I’d like to be wittier and be able to say more at this point, but if you’ve kept up with me listening to this album, then you know what to expect. It’s a wonderful journey through some of the best sounding blues/stoner rock you’ll ever here.
Remember when I brought up the Fun Lovin’ Criminals? Yeah, this is that bit. It’s a song called ‘The Boogie Down’ and it features Sonny Cheeba. It’s got a rap flow over a funky number with a brass band in the background. I’ll admit I enjoyed this one, but my dad used to relentlessly play FLC back in the day, so I don’t mind it. Some people might not enjoy this one as much, but there’s plenty more on this album before and preceding this track for you to get your teeth into if this one isn’t for you.
From there we get what I’m calling my favourite on the album, ‘Black Wave’. It has a sombre intro, and then the bass groove kicks in with some simple snare drumming, and wow. Those of you out there that like some herbal refreshment with their music will side with me on this one, this track is an excellent one for such enjoyment. You can actually feel the bassline going through you, and it just takes you someplace else. The lyrics as well are worth noting for similar reasons. Absolutely the best track on this album, and one I’ll be playing over the rest of the album, as great as the rest of it is, because this one just stands out to me.
‘The Echo’ is aptly named, going off the intro alone. It’s got a truly classic vibe to it, and I know I’ve pinpointed it a lot during this review, but the bass. Oh, the bass. People that know me know I’m a bass fan anyway, but even without bias it’s truly the star of the album, and all the credit in the world goes to Alfred for that. This one here is a more chaotic sounding song, with the verses sounding almost tribal, and that’s all down to how Brandon Burghart keeps things ticking along behind his drumkit. It’s the stuff outside the verses though where the song kicks into another gear, and you truly get that stoner sound coming through again. It’s loud, it’s toned to fuck, and it’s great. Definitely not one to play to wake the neighbours up on a Sunday.
Sadly, all great things must come to an end, and so it is, that with bonus track ‘I Can’t Let You Go’ that this album too, must end. And I don’t want it to. I feel like the song’s title. I can’t let this album go. I forsee myself listening to this album free of thinking critically and just thinking about munchies instead. The song itself is a good ending song on an album like this. It’s methodical and plodding, and just as dark lyrically as the rest of it.
To sum things up, if you like Clutch but feel they could be a touch more mellow yet have a darker edge at times, then this is the band for you. If you’re a fan of stoner music, blues, or just like to listen to something to make your mind expand itself, then this is the one for you.
02. Red Eyed Junkie Queen
03. Glenn’s Promise
04. Bury Me Deep
05. The Watchers Nest
06. Break My Love
07. Lemon Trees
08. The Boogie Down [feat. Sonny Cheeba]
09. Black Wave
10. The Echo
11. I Can’t Let You Go [Bonus Track]
Visit the band on Facebook: www.facebook.com/theidoldead
Get the album here: themidnightghosttrain.bandcamp.com/album/cypress-ave
Also available on CD and vinyl from: shop.napalmrecords.com