Trainwreck RidersView in iTunes
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The Trainwreck Riders don't play alt-country, and they're certainly not rockabilly. Instead, this San Francisco quartet is not quite a quarter century too late for their ideal scene partners: they're a cowpunk band, in the tradition of Green on Red, Rank and File, and a number of now all but forgotten fellow travelers. The twangy country influence in the guitars and vocals is matched to an energetically punky rhythm section that drives the group in a way that Uncle Tupelo and their brethren never quite managed. That punk energy is well earned, since the Trainwreck Riders' roots are in the Bay Area hardcore scene, which lead guitarist and harmony singer Andrew Kerwin has been a part of since his teens. (Alongside his tenure in the Trainwreck Riders, Kerwin is also a guitarist in the long-running punk-pop act All Bets Off.) Inspired by the first wave of cowpunk acts and later country and punk hybrids like the Meat Puppets and the Mekons, Kerwin, his drummer and brother Steve Kerwin, and lead singer and rhythm guitarist Pete Fraudenfelder formed the Trainwreck Riders in 2003 as part of a loose conglomeration of Bay Area bands that played art galleries and similarly non-traditional spaces, performing music with folk or other traditional influences. While performing regular San Francisco gigs with the Two Gallants and other like-minded acts, the Trainwreck Riders wrote and recorded their first album, 2005's Where the Neon Turns to Wood, with bass and production by a temporary bandmember, Kerwin's All Bets Off bandmate Forrest Lawrence. With Lawrence replaced by permanent bassist Morgan Stickrod, the Trainwreck Riders signed to the local indie label Alive Records and released 2006's highly accomplished Lonely Road Revival. Perch followed in 2009. ~ Stewart Mason