The Bordertown Saints: The Bordertown Saints
By Gerry Gomez, Staff Writer
Imagine a run away train barreling through a Tex-Mex bordertown landing right in the middle of a dusty, olde-timey saloon brawl and you’ve got the Bordertown Saints. Their debut offering, Bordertown Saints, is full of some really good honky-tonking insurgent country rock among the best one will find in Southern California.
The Bordertown Saints have one of those rare but envied stories to tell among bands: they have been friends with each other since high school. Front man/rhythm guitarist Ruben Rivera; bassist Dean Carlson; guitarist Mike Krause; guitar, pedal steel guitar player and vocalist Dale Andersen; and drummer Jenn Carlson have played in and out of bands with each other for years, hell, some are even married as is the case with Dean and Jenn. Around three years ago, the light finally went on and they realized that they should put their other bands aside and concentrate on making music together. The music they make would put a smile on any outlaw country rocker’s face as well as a hitch in their “get along.”
Given the band’s members grew up around each other and of similar, but divergent paths, it makes sense that they sound the way they do. Formerly in punk band’s or indie bands or alt country bands all of them had a common point of reference with country music. It’s noticeable that the band has boned up on their Waylon, Willie and the Hag and added elements of the Bottle Rockets, Old 97s, and the Flying Burrito Brothers on their rollicking country rockers.
There’s a looseness and a togetherness to the highlights of the album. Right off the bat, “Lock N Load,” “Me, My Bottle And Nothing But Time,” and “Interstate Highway Blues” set the tone for this introduction to the Bordertown Saints. “Sinner” will have you stomping around hitting repeat again and again and “The Ballad Of Jesse Jayne” is a take on the familiar sorrowful tale of small town girl seeks fame and fortune in California with a predictable demise en route. It’s an easy grooving tune with a bit of a mandolin added for a bittersweet contrast. In “Sinner” and “The Ballad of Jesse Jayne,” Rivera is at his best showing his range as he goes from brawny to balladeer respectively.
“Oh this sinner that I am. Got one drunk bottle in my hand. Looks like I’m trying to be the man. Save me from this sinner that I am,” pleas Rivera on the sing-a-long, “Sinner.”
The rest of the band pair their own raspiness and swagger to that of Rivera’s lead vocals over the span of the album. Through the manly spaghetti western themes the band breathes life and urgency into the whole set, with each song nicely featuring guitars, pedal steel, fiddle, and/or accordion. Krause is a fine country picker with loads of taste and riffs and Andersen adds great flourish with his pedal steel and electric guitar leads, whichever the song calls for. The rhythm section of the Carlson’s are as solid a combo as could be found, laying down a very steady, solid bottom end with style and dexterity when called for (check out rimshots, stroke rolls and variety of train beats done tastefully throughout the album). Tex-Mex accordion is found on the tracks, “One More Hit For The Road” and “M-E-X-I-C-A-N,” and is deftly played by local whiz Jeremy Long. Mike Stave adds the tasty fiddle parts.
There are plenty of tunes to uplift your spirits on Bordertown Saints, and you can get them spirits uplifted in person as the Saints play the Ranch Party at EB’s Beer and WIne Bar at the Farmer’s Market on September 29th at 8:30 pm. You can also grab their debut at iTunes and Amazon.com.