Thursday, December 06, 2007

Brazos Brazos Brazos

(photo by Mary Sledd)

Brazos first caught my attention in September when they performed at the Austin Sound Off Festival, where they quickly won the crowd over with a captivating live set. Brazos is the creation Martin Crane, a young figure in the Austin music scene with an impressive songwriting ability and a voice to match. As Brazos he has played with members of other promising local acts (The Early Tapes, White Denim, Tacks, The Boy Disaster), while releasing a couple of well-received EPs just on the strength of home recording sessions. Feeding Frenzy is a playful lo-fi recording with an exciting title track, while A City Just As Tall features rich production and more dynamic content. Last week I sat down with him to find out more about the band and get a feel for what we can expect next.
  • CC: How long have you been doing Brazos?
MC: Brazos has been around loosely since we got together for a show at Beerland last year, but it didn't really get going until May of this year when I finished school.
  • CC: At what point did you record these two EPs?
MC: They were both recorded within a few weeks of each other over the summer. A City Just As Tall was actually recorded before Feeding Frenzy, it just took a while to get it mixed, mastered and pressed. We have all of the recording equipment at my house, and with Feeding Frenzy we recorded it in like two days and just mixed it ourselves, so the turnaround was really quick. A City Just As Tall was a much more involved process that took more time to finish. I kind of did Feeding Frenzy because I was getting tired of spending a lot of time trying to make A City Just As Tall sound perfect and just wanted to have some fun.
  • CC: So, did this material come from a collaborative effort between you guys?
MC: No, both of these have really just been me writing and recording my own stuff. But that won't be the case in the future as things solidify. I always wanted to have a band, but spending so much time with school I never had the chance to put something real together. I never even had much time to go out and get involved in the scene or to practice much until I graduated.
  • CC: What are some of your influences?
MC: If I'm trying to tell people what Brazos is like, I'd say it's kind of like a combination of three or four albums including A Ghost Is Born, Internal Wrangler, and Greens From Ashbury Park. Those are the three main albums that I think kind of represent what we're doing. I tend to listen to old 60's R&B, as well as a lot of Radiohead, Panda Bear and Animal Collective.
  • CC: What can we expect next from Brazos?
MC: These EP's are just kind of the foundation of things right now. I want to get the word out in Austin and also attract some good players to be permanent members of the band. It's been tough to find really good people who are free and not tied into other things. I've written a whole bunch of new songs and at pretty much every show we play new stuff. I'm hoping that by January we'll have a full set of completely new stuff, and I'd like to have an album recorded by February. It's going to be a real classic guitar, piano, drums and bass record. I'm excited about it.
  • CC: Can you tell me a little about the song "They're There"?
MC: Mark David Ashworth wrote that song when he went to Mexico City about two years ago and he kind of let me have it. I learned it while I was on a trip to Guatemala and then wrote the second part called Airport Rebel when I got back from the trip. They both have pretty much the same chord structures, and the second half is sort of my answer to the first part. They are kind of brother-sister songs.
  • CC: What about "Mrs. Virginia"?
MC: I wrote that song over a period of about a year, and it's about a lot of different things. Right about that time I was trying to write songs where I was just using normal colloquial language, setting regular speech to melody, and it just kind of came out. A friend showed me a poem by Cortazar about this guy who builds a city in his room, and I was interested in how people can have fantasies of living in their own little world where they can be king.
With songs this good after only a couple of solo home recording sessions, I can't wait to hear what comes next. Like Austin Sound said, this band's potential is exciting. You can get your hands on mp3s from both EPs at the official site, and click over to the myspace to hear their latest addition, "Comatose." If you're in the Austin area tomorrow, you can check out Brazos performing instore at End of an Ear at 6 p.m.