Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Brad Kopplin, Patrick Fleming and Joe Terry
There is a music collective that exists down in Austin, Texas, that has everything to do with abundant creativity, near poverty for all involved, ridiculous masterpiece-like works coming out of its ears, and a keen knack for smartly experimental melodies and almost complete anonymity. It's the saddest truth that there could be - that most of this beauty is as unheard of as something that's never been recorded. Most of the acts in the collective tour sparingly, keeping to themselves and as close to their beaten up recording devises, working menial jobs so they can afford rent and the essentials.
Brazos is the third band from the Autobus label/idea that we've had the privilege of recording and it matches the stunning results that we first heard in the 2007 Sparrow House (the lo-fi and quiet as a dormouse solo project of Voxtrot member Jared Van Fleet) session and this year's Sunset (the full-time outfit that former Sound Team madman Bill Baird works with) session. Martin Crane, the leader and songwriter of the band, does big and bombastic on a smaller scale. He takes the massive span of what a group such as U2 or My Morning Jacket builds into their everyday, musical actions and boils it down into something that he and his talented mates know how to play with. They aren't in need of a surefire arena rocker nor a super ballad that Crane can belt and all the rest can dress up into a Coldplay sort of wall of towering sound, or more so, toweringly ubiquitous lyrics that are meant to be "worldly" in that they are for the everyman and everywoman, hinting at so many universal points.
While Bono is bringing the house down with themes of big love, dream love, beautiful days and both he and Chris Martin are differently colored scraps of fabric around their arms or addressing summits to stir some awareness for the causes du jour, Brazos can be found making ever more stimulating and intriguing micro-social commentary, the likes of which would be difficult to match. Crane has a voice that is reminiscent, at times, of that sunglassioed crown prince of Ireland and the bushy Jim James, but he takes it down many of the back alleys - the lonely, overgrown and forgotten about paths of pavement on all days except garbage pick-up days and when a shortcut's needed - where bikes lay rusting forever and where conversations happen that don't happen anywhere else.
There's an interesting mixture of domesticity in some of the words that Crane writes - interesting because they are often spliced together with the bullshit detectors going off and a real suave way of maintaining a leery, maniacal, misfit-like approach to his tunes of mixing it up with the ladies. He's in bed with them, snarling out a snickering tease about the crazy things that might have happened under those sheets in a song directed to the girl's mother, but then really being more excited and pleased (the real him?) about his books sharing the same shelf with her books. The world is sparkling for the most part and Crane and Brazos happily put a spin on the dreariness, showing the flowers jutting up through the cracks in those back lots and trash-strewn alleys where car doors get slammed and glasses get broken against walls.
Brazos MySpace Page