Two and bit years ago The Midnight Ghost Train released “Cold Was the Ground” on Napalm. It got me excited with its ballsy, fuzzed out riffs peppered with Cave-esque pathos. It would appear that the shacks on Cypress Ave. are made from the same materials as its predecessor.
From opener “Tonight” I know that my hopes have been met. Is this a melancholy backwoods lament, no it’s gonna fire up, shit no it’s not, um yes it fucking is! Like Alice In Chains country hick cousin this reintroduces the listener to Steve Moss’s infectious gravelly rasp and fuzzy chops backed by Brandon Burghart’s thunderous tub thumping and Mike Boynes low end.
It is that very bass rumble that ushers in “Red Eyed Junkie Queen” then continues to sit sullenly behind the stoner riffs as Moss vents about the aforementioned problem lady and the pain she has brought him. “Glenn’s Promise” is a powertrip down Wyndorf lane with a groove that gets the hips and shoulders gyrating. A great track to pole dance too – if I could find some reinforced scaffolding to withstand my mighty bulk!
“Bury me deep” and “ The Watchers Nest” offer up slices of bluesy melancholy with the latter bringing up memories of Stone Temple Pilots at their pain wracked best.
Moss and Co. are definitely fans of Tom Waits as shown on “The Little Sparrow” on “Cold Was the Ground”. This collection offers up “Break My Love” for a downbeat Americana love lament. This should be listened to at 2 am with a coffee mug filled with cheap bourbon. “Lemon Trees“ which follows makes me double take as I thought it was the Doobie Brothers as it borrows the main refrain from Long Train Running . It keeps a lo-fi groove going for half the track before slapping some meat on the bones to take it home. There is plenty of P-Funk in the back beat of THGT but I gotta say I was not prepared for a hip hop collaboration. Sonny Cheeba of Bronx Duo Camp Lo appears on The Boogie Down – having previously helped out Will Smith and the Avalanches his old school New York rhymes blend deliciously with this Roy Ayers style horn infused funky hip hop. Did not see this coming but this raises the game boyeee! “Coltrane, Midnight Train or was it 4 Train?” This is 70’s New York before the blackout with 90’s rap adding the zing!
“Black Wave” is heart wrenching, beautiful, romantic , soulful and quite frankly sublime. The drum brushes and bass carry the coffin along the funeral route of this piece. This is one to listen to when you need to leak from the face. “The Echo” keeps the melancholy but slathers it in fuzz and psychedelic madness and the odd solo.
Last track is “I Can’t Let You Go” – a worthy sentiment as this album is latched onto my rockin’ soul. What other way is there for The Midnight Ghost Train to sign off except a dirty bluesy murder ballad? These boys have taken everything that made “Cold Was the Ground” and then added in further spice and funk to produce one of the finest albums I have heard this year. The lows are lower, the funk is groovier, the sadness is so chestbursting I feel like 70’s John Hurt. This is where heavy Americana is at in 2017 and it is damn fine.
(9/10 Matt Mason)