Someone needs to sign this band. Today.
Every now and then you find an unsigned band who make it all worthwhile, and that?s how I feel about Buffalo?s The Midnight Ghost Train. Not only are they self-financing a full month-long US tour, but their bluesy, boozy, diverse six-track The Johnny Boy EP — which is actually about 50 minutes long — is pushing the stoner envelope with a sound as natural as it is brazen.
A trio featuring Steve Moss on guitar and vocals, Keith Harry-Carey on bass (since replaced by O.D. Lallo of L.O.M.F. and formerly Negative Reaction) and drummer Jake Levin (since replaced by Brandon Burghart), also on piano, The Midnight Ghost Train are one of those bands who actually deliver when you say, ?Wow, I sure hope there?s a harmonica on this song.? The Johnny Boy EP opener ?Brothers? gets moving with a driving riff and the memorable, charming lyric, ?I?m in love with a new girl every week.? Moss? vocal has a very stoner rock rough edge, and on the softer, longer, more atmospheric ?Stranger? he seems to have taken a diction cue from Eric Wagner?s later work in Trouble. Not a bad thing since it works coupled with the echoing, bluesy guitar.
Throughout The Johnny Boy EP, the compositions remain diverse. ?Waltz? keeps in line with ?Stranger? and ?Brothers? lyrically, furthering the theme of love come and gone over a bed of post-grunge heavy/quiet tradeoffs. The fuzzy bass leads the way, lending the song a sub-experimental bent that transitions well into the piano-laden ?In Fog.? Soulful guest female vocals from Caitlin Koch and more harmonica make the song a standout and highlight on the EP — at least until the 17-minute ?Woman of Hate,? which again features Koch and seems to cull together all the elements thus far presented and set them against a Sleep-style riff and a mad ramble beginning just after the song hits 10 minutes.
The long slowdown/deconstruction of ?Woman of Hate? — clearly meant as the apex of the album — ends in faded out feedback and the epilogue/closer ?Do You Feel? finds Moss strumming an acoustic guitar and saying, ?I?m just gonna go for it? Done while a pretty girl sleeps,? before delivering another lonely lyric. At about 2:42, it?s a quick, sentimental ending, but is one more reminder of the multi-faceted approach of The Midnight Ghost Train, who in just six tracks have helped validate the assertion that stoner rock is still alive and vibrant in the US and that there are bands out there still waiting to be discovered by the few who know enough to go find them.
And hopefully when they do find them, they sign them. Because, yeah, that needs to happen.
Tags: Buffalo, The Midnight Ghost Train, Unsigned bands