From the get-go, I thought that I had the Trainwreck Riders pegged. With the descriptors of country and rock, I was sure that they were going to be a more modern version of a Parsons Burrito Byrds conglomerate, yet I couldn't have been more wrong. Hearing their music for the first time threw me an instant curve ball, probably because I was expecting to hear upbeat shuffles with quirky pedal steel lines and instead was dished out a serving that was a bit more rock than roll. Hailing from San Francisco, the Trainwreck Riders consist of vocalist and guitarist Pete Frauenfelder, Andrew Kerwin on drums, and his brother Steve on lead guitar and vocals.
For the most part, this album is a modern cowpunk record that brings to mind obvious influences from this genre including the Meat Puppets and the Mekons. Part rock, but never over the top, the Trainwreck Riders are a pretty safe, middle-of-the-road bet that never gets too out of control on the volume and tempo end of things. Not a face-melter at all mind you, The Perch, though chocked full of momentary lapses with Dobro, lap steel, and fiddle, can best be described as an alternative country rock album with a sound that is highly similar to that of Built to Spill and Modest Mouse. Highlights include"Don't You Know", a track with an extremely laid back tempo that could seamlessly be added to any Modest Mouse record and "Chug Along", a soft, acoustic song complete with resonator guitar, brushes on the snare drum, and a warm, summer evening feel that makes you just want to put your feet up on the back porch and watch the sun go down.
Though not what I expected at first, the Trainwreck Riders have delivered an album that is perfect for the warm weather that is upon us. The Perch is yet another point chalked up in the plus column for Alive Records and I am sure that we will more from the Trainwreck boys hopefully soon.-Andrew Bryant