Album Review: The Midnight Ghost Train – “Cypress Ave”
The Midnight Ghost Train are back with their fourth studio album Cypress Ave, the follow up to 2015’s critically praised Cold Was The Ground. The album opens with Tonight, which I have to admit on first listen I wasn’t particularly taken with, as while the song does have a great atmospheric quality and some deliciously dark verses, the chorus lets it down, although it is a song that has grown on me over a few listens.
The rest of the album ranges from passable to very good. Break My Love and I Can’t Let You Go both have a real Southern, bluesy, New Orleans-esque quality to them like something out of a whisky bar near a swamp, it’s is a really visceral sound that definitely makes an impression. The Echo presents a similar sound, if perhaps not quite as memorable, but with a more despairing, growling element to it.
The Midnight Ghost Train display their versatility on tracks such as Lemon Trees, which has a more funky beat and a cracking bassline and The Watchers Nest which has a more stoner-rock sound, much like Glenn’s Promise which is reminiscent of Kyuss. Red-Eyed Junkie Queen has the biggest hook for a chorus and is surely destined to be the lead single off Cypress Ave due to its excellent use of distortion and a big burly bastard of a riff form the off. However, for me the biggest departure on the album is The Boogie Down, which has a 1970s soul/funk vibe helped in no small part by the presence of one Sonny Cheeba (of Camp Lo fame) on this track. It sticks out like a sore thumb, but for all the best reasons, conjuring an image of 1970s New York and an infectious groove that is impossible not to like.
The Midnight Ghost Train, and by extension the album Cypress Ave, are something of a mixed bag. They have a really varied sound, and some things they do sound incredible, while other elements of their sound fall a bit flat. They are at their best when going for a funkier, blues-based sound, and their worst when they opt to veer towards more traditional metal songs. Steve Moss has a really distinctive gravelly vocal style which doesn’t quite work for the heavier material, but works a treat alongside the funky basslines of the more southern sound, and even their more stoner-rock based stuff. They are a solid musical unit, but they need to find that unique sound if they are to be as good as the potentially could be.
A solid album, with some real highlights, some tracks that work less well, and a mixture of different sounds. The Midnight ghost Train are certainly a versatile unit, but perhaps that versatility is at the expense of consistency.