Trainwreck Riders

Lonely Road Revival

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AllMusic Review by

Open a paper, dial up a pundit, and you'd believe this country was so polarized that even the Berlin Wall was more easily crossed than the cultural chasm that now divides this nation. So wide is the divide it's swallowed whole regions and even engulfed music, with genres now color-coded red or blue. Punk, of course, is the latter, country the former. Trainwreck Riders make a nonsense of these notions, being as they are a rocking in their chair, guitar-pickin' on the porch, non-political punk band from San Francisco. Stick that in your Pew poll and smoke it. Their debut album Lonely Road Revival harkens back to a golden age of Americana, when folk, country and blues musically intertwined (even if the musicians themselves rarely did). The band draw inspiration from all three, particularly Andrew Kerwin, whose finger-lickin' good guitar-pickin' is the soul of Trainwreck Riders' sound. With twangy country, blues, rockabilly, and pop-inflected passages that bring to mind the Byrds or even the Beatles, Kerwin effortlessly picks his way through them all, spinning out melodies and riffs, never missing a beat or putting a finger wrong. Singer/rhythm guitarist Pete Frauenfelder is an equally adept frontman, whose folksy vocals gives all the songs a unique flavor, even the driving, punk-studded numbers like "Find Your Way Home," which work as an equal showcase for the band's fabulous rhythm section. Lyrically lovelorn, nerves raw, and emotions muddled, Trainwreck Riders songs ramble down the briar-filled paths of confused interpersonal relationships. The lyrics may be downbeat, but the music is not, careening headlong into country hardcore (!), brawling rockabilly, and punchy punk blues. But for every exhilarating, slam-bang number, there's a corresponding one with a much more laid-back rhythm, easygoing atmosphere and at times, even dreamy aura. This is Americana for a new America, and as train wrecks go, this one is a beauty.

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