How is everyone fairing in this late autumn season? As we are entering the winter months, we reflect back on the moments we spent in autumn. It has been a tough year as we couldn’t enjoy autumn as we have in the past. However, though it was a different type of year, we could still enjoy the crisp season. How? With music, of course!
One album that I particularly enjoyed this autumn season was Smoke and Cinder by the American rock band Steam Train Hearts. As I listen to each track, I felt like this was an album that anyone could enjoy, even if you aren’t a rock fan. Why? Continue to read on to find out.
Check out the new album by Steam Train Hearts down below and let me know what you think!
Smoke and Cinder by Steam Train Hearts: An Album For Everyone
What sound has arisen from this sonic marriage of opposite tones? There is a strong Neil Young and 80s indie rock influence (Dinosaur Jr., Psychedelic Furs, Dream Syndicate) with elements of power pop and mod sprinkled throughout various songs on the album. The STEAM TRAIN HEARTS glide with ease from the folk/country-rock of Seed Change” to the Austin Powers London swing of Stay Classy” to the blistering guitars of upbeat rocker “Despair.”
The answer to the question of how Smoke and Cinder is an album for everyone is found in the album’s musicality. Steam Train Hearts doesn’t just take on only one rock subgenre, it takes on many. For example, you can hear a few influences from The Clash in “Uncertainty” with its high-power rock vibes and brash vocals. But then, you can hear influences from Neil Young in songs like “Take Me Down to the Bayside” with its mellow folk-rock melody. There are other influences from artists and bands that you can in the remaining tracks, but one thing is certain is that there is a little bit of every type of rock imagined for everyone.
The other thing I like about this album is the stories behind the songs. Reading about the album from the press kit (featured below), you can get excited to hear the freight train references in each song. I am a train enthusiast, so I was in awe when I hear the train sounds in the album. What else is amazing about the album is the stories, especially with “Stay Classy” and “Uncertainty”. They are stories that reflect our modern times, about ourselves, and dedication to rock legends. Who hasn’t faced the “cruelty of self-doubt” in their lives? I sure have!
Warning! This album contains freight train references; however, they are historically grounded as Dietz used to “ride the rails” in his college years, sometimes missing chunks of school when a train would veer off in the wrong direction. At his request, the rhythm guitar volume was elevated on the opening title track to simulate an undercurrent of rumbling. Down the line on the album, Dietz sings a tribute to Joe Strummer, laments the cruelty of self-doubt in “Uncertainty,” and pokes fun at a certain President’s vanity in “Stay Classy.
Steam Train Hearts’ newest album Smoke and Cinder is an album for everyone, especially for non-rock fans, as it has a little bit of everything; pop, rock, melodic, brash, indie rock, pop-rock, the 80s, 90s, and so on. Each track features a different type of musical genre with its own diverse musicality. But, what else makes this album a must listen to is the fact that it relates to our lives as it reflects on current affairs of the world as well as the human journey. Because of its diverse musicality and the close relationship to ourselves, Steam Train Hearts is a must-listen album of 2020 for anyone.
Make sure to check out Smoke and Cinder by Steam Train Hears down below and let me know what you think of the album in the comments. What was your favorite track? Mine is “Turn It Blue” as it very mellow, melodic, and reminds me of Psychedelic Furs.
About the Artist: Steam Train Hearts
Indie-pop enthusiast Wallace Dietz of the Silent Boys has united with swamp/punk/noir-a-billy guitarist Bruce Smith of Dismal Swamp Lords to create the STEAM TRAIN HEARTS, a melodically charged indie rock band. Smith and Dietz are partners at Sound Of Music studios in Richmond, VA with engineer John Morand who has produced bands like Honor Roll, the Saints, Cracker, Sparklehorse, etc…. For the recording, Smith recruited human metronome Blee Child and bass aficionado KyleHermann (Imaginary Sons). They recorded the album, “Smoke & Cinder,” back in the summer of 2017, then set it aside as running the studio required more attention.
Dietz started STEAM TRAIN HEARTS in order to play shows in Richmond again. Hard rock lead guitarist Bruce Smith, said he would join if Dietz agreed to lose the guitar. Furthermore, he wouldn’t put up with anything resembling the romantic jangle pop of the Silent Boys. With that in mind, Dietz wrote all the songs mining a different vein of music, and Smith replayed all Dietz’s rhythm guitar parts to give it a more rocking sound. While Dietz did, as requested, “lose the guitar” for the studio recording of this album, he maintains his position as rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist for live shows. Smith begrudgingly admits he’s not as useless as initially declared.