Steel Train
Twilight Tales From the Prairies of the



by killrobotmusic USER (5 Reviews)
August 25th, 2009 | 3 replies

Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Steel Train’s attempt at a magnum opus ultimately dissipates into a conga line of homages.

Steel Train is a band that is not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeve. The release of their first EP For You, My Dear introduced six retro-infused indie numbers that showed a band that was just getting comfortable with their sound. Before this EP could even be fully digested, another EP entitled 1969 would be released in the same year. This disc proved to be much different by featuring six spot-on renditions of popular songs from 1969, including tracks from The Beatles, Bob Marley, and David Bowie. These two ‘teasers’ brought forth much anticipation to what their full-length album would sound like.

In 2005, Steel Train finally released Twilight Tales From the Prairies of the Sun. Unlike the quieter tracks that graced For You My Dear, Twilight Tales tries to embark upon a much more grandiose sound with a vast amount of stylistic changes and increased auxiliary instrumentation. The end result is an album that feels disconnected as a whole. However, quite a few strong tracks save the album from falling into the pit of utter mediocrity.

As mentioned earlier, a large problem of the album is that it seems more like a springboard to display their homages then an attempt to write memorable music. From the Carlos Santana inspired ‘The Lee Baby Simms Show’ pieces to the mandolin saturated ‘Road Song’, many of the songs simply feel like they have been done before. Because of these stylistic leaps, the tracks on the album also feel estranged from one another. Combine this with the fact that there are 15 songs total on the disc, and it becomes very hard to identify with the album as a whole.

Despite these flaws, Steel Train still manages to sprinkle the album with some wonderful tracks. The opening cut ‘Better Love’ is a relaxed indie-folk number with good lyrics and catchy instrumentation. This proves to be possibly the best song on the album. Also worth mentioning are the heavily Beach Boys influenced ‘Dig’ with a dream-like pedal steel guitar and warm vocal harmonies and energetic guitar based ‘Gypsy Waves’ that shows that Jack Antanoff surely knows how to play his instrument.

Steel Train would go on to realize their potential after losing singer Scott Irby-Ranniar and composing the highly underrated Trampoline with Antanoff in full command. If anything can be taken away from their debut LP, it is that Steel Train is a band with a wealth of influence and talent. On this release, it just never was able to fully come together to create something endearing.

user ratings (12)

Comments:Add a Comment 
August 25th 2009


Album Rating: 3.0

Still looking for comments on what everyone liked or did not like to help me improve. Also, I messed up when I entered the release date (it should be 2005 instead of 2009) into the database. How do I fix this?

Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2011


Album Rating: 2.5

Ian, it seemed like no-one knew who Steel Train were when you wrote these reviews. Good stuff here & it's better than your EP review, if only because an LP gives you a lot more to write about. It's not just that though, as you hit the nail on the head with many of your statements concerning this album. If there is anything I'd disagree on, it would be that you've been too nice with the rating. Hell, I think I'm being a little nice with giving it a 2.5.

This debut LP was disappointing, since they set themselves up decently with the 2 EPs that preceded it. They just aim extraordinarily high on this release, trying to cover a multitude of genres. Hell, the first 3 songs alone take in folk, country & 60's pop. They're a versatile & talented band, but they play to their influences way too much here & it's ultimately beyond them. It comes off as more of an impressive jam as part of some kind of audition, than a cohesive album. And then to make matters worse, it goes on for 15 tracks & 66 minutes! Oh well, at least it is sincere & there is some cool guitar-work from Jack Antanoff here. 'Dig', 'Better Love' & 'Wake Your Eyes' are the 3 best tracks.

I'm just glad Steel Train kept at it, because they get the mix much better on follow-up LP 'Trampoline' (the epic 7 minute 'Alone on the Sea' from that album was everything many of these tracks strived to be) and then stepped it up even further on their self-titled release.

November 16th 2013


Album Rating: 2.0

I'm actually just gonna go ahead and call this album horrendous in comparison to everything that's come after it.

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