When Todd Goldstein of ARMS first told me of Austin trio Brazos with whom they shared a name (albeit in Spanish), I'm not exactly sure what I expected. Maybe rock pop a la ARMS with a foreign air that would keep comparisons of the two bands to a minimum? Perhaps a bit too on the nose. It's hard to say what I thought I'd hear exactly. I only know that whatever I expected when I saw Brazos this past Friday night a long with Port St. Willow and ARMS, I had all of them exceeded; blown out of the water. I was utterly floored.
Brazos - Kid by guyandacat
Based around singer/songwriter Martin Crane, Brazos is the certainly the kind of band you want opening up your show. Energetic with a plethora of toe-tapping jams that had everyone in Union Pool moving and grooving along, Brazos plays with a simplicity that recalls the cool, easy listening vibe of Real Estate without being a carbon copy. They play an enjoyable brand of folk-affected sun-speckled rock that's similar but not congruent. Not to mention Martin Crane's ace in the hole: poetic lyricism that no doubt must come from band's folk influence. 2009's debut LP Phosphorescent Blues is more or less framed around an actual poem - "The Observer" by Adrienne Rich, which Crane sets to a winding, groovy fingerstyle sprawl.
And that's what you find in Brazos' music - an artful blending of poppy musicianship with lyrics that are more than your standard placeholding fare. Crane's spins interesting narratives - they're not epics but they don't need to be. They have the attention to detail required in properly captivating storytelling while not being overbearing literary. They're not even notably attention-grabbing and that is what is great about. You can like Brazos music without pouring over them with magnifying glass but doing so has it own rewards.
Brazos are currently at work at their follow up record and I'm certainly thrilled to be able to get my hands on it. Because it's bound to be a good one. That and it means they Austin trio might make their way back to New York for another night of fantastic tunes. Here's hoping it's soon.
Have a taste of Brazos' Martin Crane playing a solo set of songs for Hooves on the Turf in a Bushwick bedroom:
You can listen to Brazos' debut album Phosphorescent Blues on Spotify.