By Barry Gilbert
Of the Post-Dispatch

April 22, 2004

Lost Trailers
"Welcome to the Woods"
Republic/Universal Records

Most of the tons of landfill-clogging CDs that are released every month never get reviewed, and most of the ones that do are judged after only a few listens and are quickly forgotten. "Welcome to the Woods" was released Tuesday, but it's been available for review since last fall, and it's as fresh today as it was then. Ten of its 14 songs are rated four or five stars on my iPod, and the ones that aren't - well, call it a futile attempt at objectivity. It can't be that good, can it?Well, yes, it can.

The five-man, Atlanta-based Trailers, led by main songwriters Stokes Nielson and Ryder Lee, champion a rootsy, literate, heartland rock that rarely gets played on the radio anymore unless it's by Springsteen or Petty or Mellencamp.

"Welcome to the Woods," the band's major-label debut, recalls both those artists and the Band in anthemic, Southern tales of love and loss, life and death, war and murder.

A love letter to "Atlanta" rocks next to the Hollywood horror story "Longfall," and the touching, Everyman short story of "Love and War (In a Small Town)" is balanced by the murder and revenge of "Fire on the Pontchartrain."

The lyrics are smart, the hooks are solid, and the playing - drummer Jeff Potter, bassist Andrew Nielson and guitarist Manny Medina round out the band - displays a welcome sense of dynamics.

Their music is defiantly American - the America of Faulkner and Hemingway - without a shred of self-consciousness or apology.