Trainwreck Riders: Lonely Road Revival

Trainwreck Riders
Lonely Road Revival
Alive Records

Trainwreck Riders, a country-punk quartet from San Francisco (they're much more the former than the latter), really want to play on your porch swing. The band works hard to present itself as just a buncha guys, kicking back with fiddle, harmonica, handclaps, and a dream. They go by first names only (Pete, Andrew, Steve, and Morgan), and they play garage shows, street corners, and the occasional bar, where they sing about the usual confusions. Home and alcohol, mostly, and also "your sisters and your sisters' friends." It's a promising set-up, and there's a great harmonica solo by Two Gallants' Adam Stephens, but Lonely Road Revival needs more punch. At times, it's pretty bland, which is really frustrating—like ordering butterscotch and getting lumpy tapioca instead. Manufactured pencil smudges on glossy liner notes do not a punk statement make, and some of the more lovelorn, wanderlust bits feel like hipster appropriation or rich-kid luck, not necessarily the blues. That's a risky thing to say, and I hope I'm wrong. But I don't think it's very punk to sing about wine stains and a woman's eyes (which the band then compares, unadventurously, to both stars and the full moon). Sure, I like wine, and I buy this sort of rhetoric from other young, white guys (Langhorne Slim, for example, or the Black Keys). But something tells me that Trainwreck Riders are destined for frat boys and their i-Pods. That's fine. It wins groupies, and it'll certainly pay the rent. But I wanted more. I wanted butterscotch.

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