Graveyard Train : Hollow
Melbourne’s best kept secret is well and truly out of the bag. Having already plundered the country’s pubs, Graveyard Train have matched their climb to larger venues and larger crowds with an album that is big in sound, big in presence and big in voice...plus, they’ve added drums.
From the first moment you hit play, it’s apparent that you have stumbled upon the darker, seedier and meaner side of the 'alt-country' street. This side of the street doesn’t favour the aforementioned genre’s love of structured harmonies and sweet melody either.
Harmonies are replaced by chain-gang back-up vocals, and the only thing that could be described as sweet is the tone of the electric guitar, which would cut your throat if it heard you referring to it as such.
To the ear, the slide guitar is sleazy, the drums punchy and the vocals hauntingly drenched in reverb. Although the songs are all of a similar vein, with the band knowing their strengths and sticking to them, the tales of mud, blood and all things dark and gloomy have captured what audiences have grown to love about Graveyard Train best.
Served up is an album that goes from folk bar-room balladry (on personal favourite Mary Melody) to scream therapy (on One Foot In The Grave), and everything in-between. Whilst The Sermon acts as a bleak take on it’s namesake and explains away any dreams of the afterlife one might have, lead single I’m Gone demonstrates the band embracing the heavier rhythm section on the record with a pulsating beat that captures the locomotive feel of the words being spat through a distorted microphone.
With the obvious talents of Loki Lockwood at the helm, Mr. Spooky Records himself has used his work with other purveyors of the ‘dark side’ such as Six Ft Hick, as arsenal for what looks to be one of his most anticipated full length records in a while. Lockwood is known to fans of the genre for being one who enjoys his guitars loud and his bottom end heavy, almost sounding like they were recorded in a swamp.
This time around there is certain clarity in the sound that ensures every instrument the guys choose to wield (and there are many) is given the space and dynamics it needs to make up the song. With Graveyard Train’s gradual entry to more commercial radio playlists such as triple j, this clarity is sure to lure a whole new wave of fans who will no doubt cop a nice surprise when they arrive at their first gig and drown in a sea of beards and sweat.
Having caught the guys live at last year's Meredith, and watched as the entire crowd removed their shoes in what I assumed was appreciation to their songs, I have no doubt we’ll be seeing the guys added to more festival lineups this year. The 11 songs on this album will surely go down a treat too, with every one featuring sing along vocals that audience members can try out their baritone on whilst waving their shoes in the air.
BY CAM EWART
Best Track: Mary Melody
If You Like This, You'll Like These: Anything on Spooky Records, anything at The Old Bar.
In A Word: Tombstone-blues