Few bands can boast to having toured with indie rock cult band Flaming Lips, jewish hip hop/reggae phenomena Matisyahu, and emo faves Dashboard Confessional, but Steel Train have done just that. This border-crossing Jersey rock band are able to bounce between the mainstream and somewhat underground because though their sound is accessibly pop, their lyrics probe deeper.
Opening track "I Feel Weird" sums up the mindset of vocalist/guitarist Jack Anotonoff, whose life over the past 5 years has thrown him some serious curveballs:
When I was 18 everything was alive/ Then the planes hit the towers, then she died, then he died/ A part of me disappeared, six feet in the ground, a million miles in the sky.
I hate to quote the band's press release, but it seems necessary to point out that Anotonoff lost his sister, his cousin died in Iraq, and he went through a major breakup all within a short period of time. The subsequent songs that came out of such depression and dark times are as gorgeous and heartbreaking as an old Bruce Springsteen song. "The River," and "Glory Days" (always my favorite Springsteen tune) come to mind when listening to Trampoline, the band's second full-length release, though I mean this lyrically, not musically. These guys sound more like Soul Coughing, The Format or even an old soul act from the '70s than the Boss.
Other notable songs: "Diamonds in the Sky," the Weezer-esque "Black Eye" and the heartbreaking Morrissey crooner, "I've Let You Go."