Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Episode#10: Bankrupt and the Borrowers

NITES#10: Bankrupt and the Borrowers By Ajay Miranda
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As a journalist I'm a sucker for a good story, and Bankrupt and the Borrowers have the best story in town (click and scroll down to Dec 4, 2006: Worthless Wrap-up)... a ragtag crew of drunkards and gamblers from New England packed into a van with their instruments and their hopes, and not much else. The tour/exodus started in Boston. They made their way down to New York and D.C. before trekking through the Rust Belt, Midwest, and into the Pacific Northwest in a series of absurd and depressing shows that seemed to get progressively more disastrous the farther west they got. They drove down the Bay Area, into L.A., and finally east through the desert, arriving in Austin broke and alone on Thanksgiving (eating a Turkey Day dinner at the Dirty Dog on Sixth Street). That was in 2006.

The lineup has gone through a few changes in the two years since the Borrowers arrived in town, but the core group of singer/songwriters remains: Deadweight, Baggage, and Cadge. Any of them could carry a band as a lead singer, which is what makes the Borrowers special: a uniquely strong and diverse vocal attack, from Cadge's raspy guttural snarl reminiscent of an old blues singer to Baggage's husky Southern-rock croon to Deadweight's soothing song that can turn into a grating scream in the same breath. Their lyrics tread familiar territory but never sound cliche or stale: drinking songs, gambling songs, anti-war songs, and songs about getting your heart broken. If you can't relate to that, I don't know what to tell you. The themes are universal, but the lyrics (stories in many cases) are fresh and interesting. There's a depth of soul and warm-hearted sincerity behind the Borrowers that somehow makes a song about getting coked up and drunk with a Mexican hooker a glorious celebration of the flawed but well-meaning human condition, rather than the potential garbage it would be in the hands of a lesser band (see: the cleverly titled "Holden Caulfield at Age 35"). When Cadge says he's fuckin' fine to the female antagonist of "I Love You Baby", we know he probably isn't. But he says it, because that's what we do when we find ourselves heartbroken and in the gutter. We tell ourselves we're fine and we keep fighting, keep pushing on, keep looking for strength or some kind of solace (even if sometimes fueled by "recreational" substances) because we know that some day we will be. Every day that you wake up facedown on a bathroom floor, you have that split-second glow of recognition that, hey, you woke up. And you know: Some day, I will be fuckin' fine.

Filmed July 3, September 19, and September 23 at Mohawk, Bead It, and Hole In The Wall.

1. "Holden Caulfield at Age 35" at Mohawk
2. "Goddamn Right" at Hole In The Wall
3. "Money Ain't God" at Bead It
4. "I Love You Baby" at all three (you'll see!)

More Bankrupt (live at Hole In The Wall):
"Holden Caulfield at Age 35"
"I Love You Baby"
"The Cat"

If you have a slow internet connection, click here to watch in 4 parts.