Mimes of the Old West 
Artist: This Train 
Label: Organic/Indie 
Time: lots/52:19  
 
Carrying on as a three-piece since parting ways with vocalist Beki Hemingway this past spring, This Train's second album finds the band exploring new musical territory.  A pair of distortion-tinged surf instrumentals show off guitarist Jordan Richter's influences, "I Saw the Light" and "Great Atomic Power" cover the full spectrum of country gospel from the sublime to the ridiculous, there's a snippet of lounge and a gorgeous acoustic guitar-driven pop song, "A Million Years," penned by by Mark Robertson, Mitch McVicker and the late Rich Mullins. 

"We're Getting Nowhere (Fast)," a self-deprecating look at the band's career or lack thereof, and the title track are cow-punk romps displaying the humorous side of Robertson's writing.  "I Don't Want to Know" and "Who's Stopping You" (a duet with Ashley Cleveland, who also sings on five other tracks) are lyrically arresting and insightful pieces that show Robertson can be as deep as he is funny.   

Mimes of the Old West is a very strong sophomore effort and further proof that the humor gene is not disconnected at the point of conversion. 
   
By Dave Draeger 
 
  
 

 
Last January, This Train did a preview concert of possible songs for their second album, letting the audience determine by secret ballot which to include. (Click here for a review of the concert.) While listener feedback was important and rockabilly and swing continue to be This Train's backbone, Mimes of the Old West is a collage encompassing all of This Train's varied interests. Opening with sound bites related to UFO sightings, "Hanger 84's" synthesized sounds and surf guitar neatly encapsulate much of what fascinates the group about their favorite decade, the 1950's. "Sandee" demonstrates their production expertise as they take what most would consider an annoying technical difficulty and turn it into an elegant interlude. The vocals are all handled by Mark Robertson now that Beki Hemingway has left the group to pursue a solo career. Ashley Cleveland does a commendable job filling in on background vocals, contributing a special bluesy rawness in the duet "Who's Stopping You." "The Wailing Wall" and "The Great Atomic Power" will be familiar to anyone who's ever heard the band live, while newer tunes like "Goodbye" and "The Missing Link" are fresh takes on their distinctive sound. There's more to the title track, "Mimes of the Old West," than meets the eye, but I'll leave the discovery of its deeper significance to the listener.   "We're Getting Nowhere (Fast)" may attempt to summarize their career, but is overly pessimistic as the initial 1,000 unit run of this CD is almost completely sold out. To get this project to the audience it deserves, plans for making more and wider distribution are already in the works. 

Their deep exploration into all things 50's creates a lens to closely examine a variety of societal and spiritual issues. These guys are a lot of fun, but they also mine real gold. Or is that "Mime"?  

By Linda Stonehocker 

 
 
 
 
This album has spent way, way too much time in my player.  Why? They have such a knack for blending humor with the serious.  They laugh at themselves in "We're Getting Nowhere (Fast)"  as they poke fun at the slowness of their musical career.  They pay tribute to the least of the world in "Mimes of the Old West." Then there is the song, "The Missing Link."  Underneath everything is the Gospel.  All this is done to a mixture of rockabilly and surf music. This is fun stuff.  Maybe the song "A Million Years," written by the late Rich Mullins, will get This Train's career out of the station. These guys deserve it.   
  
If they come to your town, see them as they are even better live.  
  
By Shari Lloyd 
 
 

 

This Train's first UK release was hotly anticipated by this reviewer, and it hasn't disappointed. A mish-mash of influences and a fair dose of humour leads to an accessible mix of surf-rock, country, and rockabilly. There are definitely enough layers and variety to keep the listener interested. "We're Getting Nowhere (Fast)" seems to be the band's attempt to tell their own story but may now be inaccurate as they begin to garner airplay on Christian radio stations. Guest musicians include Rick Elias, Ashley Cleveland, and ex-member Beki Hemingway, plus a few others.  Also, Rich Mullins co-wrote "A Million Years" with the band, who toured with him.  

The liner notes give a couple of sentences' worth of insight into each song, and show that the songs are a mixture of good fun and humour with serious theological issues and questions. A fun album, an interesting album, and a promising album. 

By James Stewart