308 GHOST TRAIN – Next Stop No Brakes – EP Review
Now it all makes sense.
I was sitting here, readin’ through the pages of the ol’ internet and checking out what our friends in the Rock band 308 GHOST TRAIN were up to, and I sat here marveling over the fact that the guys have been getting ready to embark on their Full Steam Ahead tour. I was thinking like…you know…how? Not saying there aren’t a few of you out there making the magic happen right now amidst all kinds of crazy obstacles, I’m just saying that the last two shows I had tickets for…well those didn’t heckin’ happen due to cancellations. And then I realized the real advantage they’re rocking, touring-wise – they come from Florida; Full Steam Ahead there indeed as far as I can tell from here in Canada…come hell or high water I guess…or at the very least, that’s definitely the impression their state is leaving on the rest of the world. I ain’t here to judge nobody – y’all go out there, you be safe, and you have all the fun that you can have – hell, I’m JEALOUS! It’s been…ugh…it was back in March of 2020 that I saw my last show…that’s a year & a half already…good lord. I guarantee that’s the longest I’ve even been in between any two concerts.
Anyhow…I should have left weeks ago if I was gonna make it to their show tonight in St. Petersburg at The Side Lot…I might have to miss out on this one boys; it’s a very long walk from Canada to Florida.
Maybe it’s the bold letters, but I suspect it’s personality, charisma, and that hybrid spark you wanna hear that’s had the name of 308 GHOST TRAIN lodged on into my brain ever since I first checked out their music here on our pages back in 2019 with the release of their single “21 Guns And A Million Tears.” These dudes have been rippin’ it up, Full Steam Ahead just like their tour promises ya – and the evidence to support that is certainly out there. For real – this Train is runnin’ like clockwork y’all – I think it was probably just shortly after I got my hands on that shiny single of theirs back in the day that their debut EP came out just around the corner…they’ve gone on to crank out another since, called Somethin’s Goin’ On earlier this year, and they’ve got this new record here called, Next Stop No Brakes, scheduled to be released on January 14th, 2022, to help y’all ring in the new year with some real Rock.
And as far as I’ve heard…word on the street is that this Train is gonna start pullin’ outta the station right quick here…their lead-single “CHAOS” is gonna be cranked out onto the ol’ internet on October 31st with its official video supporting it, and the pre-order campaign for their new EP starting up at the same time. Told ya folks…they’re runnin’ like clockwork – 308 GHOST TRAIN is surgin’ with momentum, no doubt.
I felt like the opening cut was a solid intro into the new EP – “Little Miss Misunderstood” is playful and upbeat, yet also makes a whole series of insightful comments lyrically along the way as well that reflect a ton of the push/pull in our relationships with people out there in the world today. Chances are, you’ll find yourself relating to quite a bit of what they’re layin’ down here – and while yes, it’s true they’ve got a lot of observational, straightforward & direct commentary that’s based on real-life experience I’m sure – you’ll also find that “Little Miss Misunderstood” also provides genuine insight into the attitude & mindset of these minstrels behind the music too. You’ll appreciate the optimism you find…I know I did, and I feel like it’s something the world could certainly use a whole lot more of right now. There’s middle ground between us all – even between 308 GHOST TRAIN and “Little Miss Misunderstood” – and in which case, there’s hope for all of us, ain’t there? They put in a tight performance right off the drop that’s got energy and inspired spark to it, making for an enticing beginning to Next Stop No Brakes & demonstrating a quality hybrid Rock vibe that stays remarkably consistent from start to finish on this EP. Oddly enough, sound-wise, they actually ended up reminding me quite a bit of the Spin Doctors and the funked-out approach they took to their brand of Americana/Alt-Rock; the vocals create the clear identity & separation between the two bands. Still, it was interesting to hear 308 GHOST TRAIN reminding me of the Spin Doctors, who released their own ‘little miss’ with “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” back in the day. At the end of the day, that’s a direct comparison to a very lively sound that never disappoints when it comes to that good-good vibrant energy you wanna hear radiatin’ out of your speakers – 308 GHOST TRAIN comes out with a cut that’s full of spark in that same respect; one that speaks strongly on behalf of the unity you’ll find in this band, and the way they play so efficiently & effectively as one, together.
I would assume…that they’re gonna be pleasin’ many folks out there with their lead-single “CHAOS” – and there’s not much better I can say other than the fact that you’ll know why that’s the case from the very first trip you take on through it. We’re pretty much talkin’ about the fundamentals of real Rock in action here…all the great ones, and all at once…somehow housed within less than three-minute’s worth of time that’ll take you from a gritty Alt/Country stomp to a furious blaze of fired-up intensity that gives their single a full-on second life by the time it’s all over. You listen to a track like “CHAOS” though, and you KNOW that 308 GHOST TRAIN knows the complete history of those that have paved the way for them to be here rockin’ today – this band has been paying serious attention to the moves made by the giants of the genre, and you’ll hear that in this single, which is kind of like a blend of something that meets between the flashy chops of AC/DC’s “Back In Black” with that unfiltered, raw vibe & cool of early Aerosmith. Then you add in the Alt/Country grind of their chorus…the Blues/Rock tone of the guitar solo…the Punk energy they blaze with to the very end in the finale – you see what I’m sayin’ folks? To write about it is one thing, but to hear it all in action is really another – “CHAOS” is a collage of basically everything you love about Rock & a little bit of every other genre right on the fringes of its borders – 308 GHOST TRAIN reveals remarkable versatility in their sound, while keeping the focus locked on the intensity & creatin’ a real scorcher sure to satisfy ya. The guitar solo alone would have sold me on this track if I’m being honest with ya – that’s next-level stuff right there is what that is – and I love how it sets up the finale perfectly by adding in that quick instrumental break before they burn the barn down. The vocals hit the mark for sure…love the shoutin’ of “CHAOS” for the very first time too, it’s such a genuine release of real feelings out loud, it’s a perfect moment. Ultimately, I’d think that’s where the bulk of the attention from listeners tends to still end up – but don’t get caught sleepin’ here y’all – the rhythm section of 308 GHOST TRAIN is cuttin’ it UP in the background behind all the flashy stuff up front. The bass-lines from Dave Taylor all throughout this record are brilliantly warm, vibrant, and completely inspired.
I’m loving the drums from Nate Kintner on “If I Had To Live Without You” as well – he generates a fantastic spread between the melody & rhythm of his toms, and provides epic majesty to this song that gives it its own unique vibe on this EP. At the beginning, it almost sounded like they might launch right into some kind of spin on a “Sweet Child O’ Mine” for a minute there…but ultimately it twists towards a more mid-tempo Alt-ballad of sorts. When it comes right down to it, I think we’re talking about a song that’s very well-constructed, well-written, and well-played. Is it going to get the people talkin’ like the first two tracks do? Much harder to say. It’s got a tougher spot in the lineup…the toughest of the set so far coming right after the heat of “CHAOS” – we’re dialing back into a more sweet & sentimental sound to follow it, which may have an impact on how this cut gets received, at least on those initial tours through the EP for most listeners. I’m pretty confident that tracks like “If I Had To Live Without You” get their due in time…it might not stand out like their single does, but the songwriting & execution is as strong as any of the others you’ll find on Next Stop No Brakes. Mid-tempo is a notoriously tough beast to slay – I felt like 308 GHOST TRAIN has done what they can to make it stand out…the hooks are strong, the mood is humble, heartfelt, and real…guitar solo from Angel Soto is as perfect as ever…it’s still a song with a lot going for it, and over time, I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to see this track go on to be a fan favorite. It’s like part Bon Jovi, part Guns ‘N Roses, and still all 308 GHOST TRAIN at the very same time.
I would be taking a very, very long look at “My Love’s Lost” as a potential single if I was 308 GHOST TRAIN – this is…hmm…how should I put this? This is the best I’ve personally ever heard the band, and a song that’s strong enough to crossover into the speakers of just about every household on the planet in some way. Think of how something like…”Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s went on to rule the airwaves of whatever summer that was…but now like…picture that same scenario, but only awesomer. That’s right – I said it – awesomer. I do not care what my spell-check is trying to tell me, that’s exactly how I feel. So here’s what’s real…308 GHOST TRAIN might very well be heading towards a crossroads here and a potential switch in direction on the track they’ve been runnin’ Full Steam Ahead on. Because this…THIS…is more than special…”My Love’s Lost” is as spellbinding, captivating, sweet, and sincere as melody can be…they’ve played this perfectly by going low-key with the acoustic-led vibe, the gentle percussion and warm glow of the synth, strings & bass added in. I’ve been lucky enough to witness a few perfect moments in time in my lifetime folks, the grey hairs in my beard will assure you I’ve been around long enough to have experienced a couple at least…and I’m gonna add this one right here to the list. Truly – I’m beyond impressed – I’m outright amazed. Hopefully it’s not too much of a shock or a stretch for listeners out there with regards to how far they’ve traveled from the sound of a song like we heard on “CHAOS” earlier on, or the fact that many of us know 308 GHOST TRAIN to be a band that very much enjoys turnin’ them amplifiers up to a nice hot heat & rockin’ out…in my heart of hearts, every single one of us listens to “My Love’s Lost” and is as instantly won over as I personally was. No joke folks – this was one of those real time-stopping moments for me, where I perked up and just went – ‘wait – what?’ – did my playlist skip over to a different band? That’s certainly not intended as any kind of disrespect to what I’ve heard from them before – it’s a testament to how different the sound & style of “My Love’s Lost” genuinely is by comparison – and also further commentary on the rare gem this song really is. We tend to get caught up in the details sometimes when it comes to the art of making music, and can be often tempted to add in a bit too much if we’re not careful – “My Love’s Lost” is like the polar opposite, where absolutely everything you’ll hear has purpose, passion, and an authentic place in this song. While it might have more minimal ingredients to a degree, there’s not a single solitary second out of place – I literally cannot say enough about just how perfect this song is y’all. And you know something? I haven’t even told you the REAL reason I love it as much as I do yet! Congratulations Mr. Anthony ‘Train’ Caruso – you have stolen the show, and likely a whole bunch of hearts & minds out there in the process here. The vocals on this song are BRILLIANT, full-stop. Having that extra space & time without so much goin’ on around him like we’ve experienced in the tracks beforehand…I mean…it pays off to the nth degree for the melody in Anthony’s voice and reveals what he’s truly capable of in ways I’ve never personally experienced before. Everything about this song sounded like 308 GHOST TRAIN took their entire career straight to the next-level & long beyond – this tune…is TIMELESS y’all. Do you REALIZE what that means? That’s no small accomplishment y’all – that’s a straight-up milestone to be proud of and incredibly rare. Gold freakin’ star…hang this song on the fridge, or put it up there on the mantle over the fireplace…they’ve got a song to REVERE here dear readers, dear friends. And a genuine highlight in their career, without a doubt – this song is the sound that our dreams are made of.
So make no mistake – “Snake Eyes” basically stood no chance with me after that experience, though I can vouch for the fact it’s still every bit as much of a quality tune as any other you’ll find on this new EP from 308 GHOST TRAIN. Don’t blame ME – blame THEM – they’re the ones that outperformed all possible expectations with what they put together for “My Love’s Lost” – I’m just the guy listening over here! I suppose the best way I can put it, is to say that “Snake Eyes” is the kind of song we would normally associate with what we think we know about 308 GHOST TRAIN – and a song like “My Love’s Lost” is a glimpse into the potential of what they could go on to become. Like I said…it’s more than just a great song – “My Love’s Lost” is the kind of track that could end up making a band re-examine their entire direction, and whether they wanna start surrendering a few more amped-up moments like “Snake Eyes” in favor of their more delicate & stripped-back moments in music. That being said – if you DO find yourself out there in the crowd at the front of the stage on their Full Steam Ahead tour – I can pretty much guarantee you’re gonna hear “Snake Eyes,” because the energy you’ll find in this band on this cut is destined to get the whole dance-floor moving in a huge wave. It’s like The Ramones fused with an Alt/Country vibe…and I’ll admit, that’s gonna be tough for the people out there to resist when it comes to seeking out good times to turn up for on a Friday night. Don’t get it twisted – 308 GHOST TRAIN hasn’t let themselves down one iota with this final cut, or any of these tracks for that matter – they’re a versatile band with a diverse palette, and they’ve conquered this mission they set out on for the vision of what they wanted to create on the Next Stop No Brakes EP with confidence and precision. It’ll be interesting to see what the court of public opinion has to say here…I’m willing to wager a large bet that many are gonna side with me and hear something undeniably special in “My Love’s Lost” that they’ve yet to hear in 308 GHOST TRAIN to-date so far…and it’ll be equally interesting to see/hear how that might very well alter the course of their future to come. All-in-all though, they’ve got five cuts with five different styles, where versatility becomes the real cohesion between these tunes, supplying us with a lineup of songs certain to have a lil’ something for everyone to dig on – and you gotta love those odds.
Make sure to find out more about 308 GHOST TRAIN at their official site: https://www.308ghosttrain.com
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