Over the past couple decades, Americana has developed into a sort of catch-all genre classification for more traditional sounding music. But there also are bands that really do touch on many of the styles fitting under the term's wide umbrella
Borderlands primarily mixes acoustic rock, folk and country, but various other genres reveal themselves on the group's debut disc, Shout It Out Loud. The album made an initial bow in February with a pair of suburban release shows but will see its official debut in Madison this week.
In the later 1990s, an earlier version of Borderlands was based in Minneapolis. But Madison has been home in more recent times, says Kurt Griesemer, who sings and writes most of the group's original songs, along with playing guitar and various other instruments. He, Carl Rozas and Jim Turk have been playing together for a couple of years. "The membership of the band changes from time to time," Griesemer says. "Madison is the city that we call home, but I'm an outsider from Jefferson County. Thankfully no one checks at the city limits."
With Rozas on violin and Turk on percussion the group currently performs as a trio, sans bass, after the departure of Craig Jewell, who plays on Shout It Out Loud. "We decided to pare down to a three piece when Craig left the band," says Griesemer. "We also changed up some instrumentation, getting Jim away from a kit and playing a cajon (wooden box drum) instead. We don't have plans to add anyone at the moment, but you never know."
Griesemer says he often finds writing inspiration from true-life situations, including the gently swinging tribute to married life that is the album's title track. "'Shout It Out Loud' was inspired by my 20+ year relationship with my wife Carrie. That, and we were fighting at the time and I needed an out ... writing a song is a good way to get out (only if she likes it, folks -- lucky me!). Seriously, Carrie has been there every step of the way for me. All of my best songs express something about my family -- even the sad ones track from 'what ifs'."
No matter what genres the group is mixing on any particular song, Griesemer always remembers to keep the tunes catchy, and the album does a good job of maintaining a consistent flow through the various sounds and tempos. Rozas' violin gives many songs a definite Celtic edge, but he proves able to provide spice in other musical contexts as well, as on the bouncy acoustic rocker "if_then" or the border ballad "Cowboy." Though the home-recorded disc is occasionally a bit thin-sounding, that doesn't detract from the quality of the music.
Listen to an mp3 of "Shout It Out Loud" in the related files at right. More music by Borderlands is available on its release show at the Glass Nickel Pizza's Atwood Avenue location on Saturday, March 20.
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