Steel Train
WHO? New Jersey folk-rock group started by a pair of former subway buskers. Their name comes from a Sublime song but their music leans more toward classic rock influences as evidenced by the 1969 EP, which features covers of songs exclusively from that year. The band is currently on it second full-length Drive Thru Records release, last year’s Trampoline. Even though Steel Train are on a largely emo label, there is little evidence of guyliner.

PLAYERS: Jack Antonoff (vocals, guitar), Evan Winiker (bass), Daniel Silbert (guitar), Jon Shiffman (drums), Scott Irby-Ranniar (piano)

WHAT TO BUY: Check out Steel Train’s second album, Trampoline, produced by Mark Trombino (Rilo Kiley, Jimmy Eat World). After losing his sister, having a cousin killed in Iraq, and watching a long-term relationship collapse, Antonoff finds an outlet for all his angst and confusion in deceptively upbeat tracks like “Alone on the Sea” and “Black Eye.” In the band’s bio the singer explains, “Before we started making this record, I was at the worst point in my life. I was developing a terrible panic disorder. I felt awful all the time, and it got to the point where I didn’t want to do anything. Then I started writing songs again, and instead of falling apart, I tried to find a way to turn it all into something that mattered.”

WHAT TO BUY NEXT: The group’s 2005 debut album Twilight Tales from the Prairies of the Sun has its moments as well, showing an early love for Beatles-style harmonies and multi-layered arrangements. The disc was produced by Stephen Barncard (Grateful Dead, Crosby, Stills and Nash) and features guest performances by David Grisman (Grateful Dead) and Gene Parsons (Flying Burrito Brothers), which kind of explains where the whole jam-band association comes from. Well, that and the trippy cover art.

WHERE HAVE YOU SEEN THAT SINGER BEFORE? In the checkout line at the supermarket, most likely staring at the covers of the celebrity tabloids. Antonoff used to be an item with Scarlett Johansson (before she launched her own music career) and has referenced her in several of his songs such as “Better Love,” “I Feel Weird,” and “2 O’Clock.” He’s not exactly elusive about it either, singing things like, “Josie smiles and laughs, while me and Scarlett will smoke our hash.” He is now rumored to be dating actress Alia Shawkat, best known for her work on Arrested Development.

FILE NEXT TO: Bright Eyes, Coldplay, Arcade Fire

NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Train, Wire Train, Zion Train, Big Train, Gravy Train!!!!, D Train, or Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train”

CRITICAL ENDORSEMENT:Trampoline is a classic rock/folk/psychedelic rock/pop layered joyride that urges you to ball up your 5-year-plan and hit the road, destination unclear. Comprised of tracks that would merge perfectly on the Dazed and Confused soundtrack, ST demonstrates a full spectrum of sounds from wailing guitars to moody keyboards to lighthearted xylophones.” – Emotional Punk

Steel Train

07/18 - St Louis Waterfront - St Louis, MO (w/ O.A.R.)
07/20 - Sandstone Amphitheater - Bonner Springs, KS (w/ O.A.R.)
07/19 - Station 4 - St. Paul, MN
07/25 - The Black Sheep - Colorado Springs, CO
07/31 - Knitting Factory - Spokane, WA
08/02 - LOLLAPALOOZA - Grant Park - Chicago, IL
08/06 - Soma - San Diego, CA
08/10 - Antone’s - Austin, TX
08/11 - The Door - Dallas, TX
08/14 - The State Theater - St. Petersburg, FL
08/15 - Culture Room - Ft. Lauderdale, FL
08/16 - The Social - Orlando, FL
08/18 - The Loft - Atlanta, GA
08/19 - Greene Street Club - Greensboro, NC
08/21 - Ottobar - Baltimore, MD
08/23 - Webster Theater - Hartford, CT
08/24 - Xtreme Wheelz - Buffalo, NY


WATCH: “I Feel Weird”

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