Trainwreck Riders - The Perch
Record Label: Alive
Release Date: May 12, 2009
Trainwreck Riders are an alt-country rock four-piece from San Francisco. The Perch is the band's third album, and second on the California-based indie Alive Records, following Lonely Road Revival (2006).
How Is It?
You know how some vocalists (a guy like Ben Kweller pops into mind immediately) may not be super-talented as pure singers, but are able to use their quirks to their advantage, creating a style that's distinctive and uniquely charming? Trainwreck Riders singer Pete Frauenfelders meets the first criterion, but is hit-and-miss on the second. He undoubtedly wouldn't garner much praise from Simon Cowell types, and too frequently on The Perch his shortcomings handicap the songs by being brought into stark relief (see the verses of opener "Safety of a Back"). His timbre seems a better fit on the twangier numbers like "Don't You Know" and "Chug Along," and on the plodding "Julia," he finds success channeling the off-the-wall idiosyncrasies of Isaac Brock.
Musically, The Perch is less technical than its predecessor, the guitar work on which was intricate and bordered on mathy at times (hints of this are still found on "Trainwreck Heart" and the Built to Spill-esque "Three to the Clouds"). These simpler songs are mostly successful, though, as country rockers like "Weight of the Day" and "Tomorrow's Gonna Change It All" possess the subtle punk rhythms that would put them right at home on albums by Meat Puppets and Old 97s. In addition, the sentimental ballad "Livin' Daylight" is the most traditional country sounding tune here, but it's also the strongest, with the wistful guitars complemented by Frauenfelders' perfectly plaintive delivery.
The Perch is very much an exercise in direct songwriting, and as such, it isn't going to blow anyone's mind or convert those who don't care much for the country side of things. For fans of the genre, though, there's enough here to warrant checking it out.