The Legendary Trainhoppers : Hard Times

The Legendary Trainhoppers struck hard with their debut Ramble On back in 2006. Their mix of folk, Americana, bluegrass, and Midwestern rock jangle is a tip of the hat to artists like Dylan, Petty, Wilco, Neil Young, and The Jayhawks. But this River City crew made jangle of their own, locking into new stories and original melodies.

The Trainhoppers were gone not much longer after they arrived, disbanding in 2007. But in 2015 the band reconvened to conjure some musical magic and came up with their sophomore release Family Tree, which was released in 2016. From then on, The Legendary Trainhoppers have kept the train rolling with no signs of stopping.

The boys are back with their latest, the eloquent and buzzing Hard Times. Hard Times compiles the bands three EPs that spanned 2019 and 2020, as well as pandemic-inspired track and five new tunes. Besides the songs there’s even a dvd documentary included with the release. It’s what the kids say, the whole package.

The Trainhoppers have always made songs that envelope you in a special kind of warmth. From rowdy boot kickers to swaying prairie ballads this 6-piece band lock into some sort of Midwestern magic that spans decades and has influenced so many great bands and songwriters. The three EPs compiled here are a sonic sampler of what makes this band so good. From opener “Top Shelf” to the one-two shuffle of “Back 2 Me”, the band locks into what made alt-country alt, while still staying true to the spirit of country.

One of the new tracks is the gorgeous harmony-driven “It Takes A Lot”. Locking into a mixture of The Band and CSNY, The Trainhoppers soar vocally and sonically. “It’s Good or It’s Bad” locks into some serious prairie rock vibes. The best kind of story-song, the kind that walks you right into the world building going on in the track.

Hard Times is a collection of EPs, some new tracks, and a visual glimpse into the workings of a band. But more than that, it’s one fine record of shimmering, buzzing songs about life, love, and keeping it together in a world that seems to be coming apart.

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