Photo by Ben Sklar
It’s a common dilemma for many Austin artists: in a city so saturated by music and a laid-back way of life, how do you avoid “the velvet rut”? Following a national tour for the 2009 album Phosphorescent Blues, Brazos‘ Martin Crane returned to Austin creatively and personally exhausted. His day job at a phone bank was particularly unfulfilling, and most of his friends had long since moved from the city. So Crane followed suit and headed to New York, determined to recharge his batteries.
For all the musicians that move here on a daily basis, it’s always bittersweet when another moves on to bigger and brighter things. Still, Crane proved himself, even if he never truly received the recognition. The singer has been writing and self-releasing songs for close to a decade, both under his own name and with Brazos. The group made itself known outside of the city limits with high profile tours alongside the National, the Walkmen, and White Denim, and they also opened local shows for a number of heavy-hitters, including Grizzly Bear, Vampire Weekend, and Iron & Wine.
It’s a little bit illogical, but now Brazos are getting more buzz being a smaller fish in a much bigger pond, and that’s thanks to Saltwater, their new album out May 28. Crane spent the better part of two years writing and re-writing the record, paring thirty songs down to a taut nine. Speaking to Texas Music Matters, Crane stated that for him, the songs have a feeling of long distance, space, movement. Questions get asked, but there aren’t necessarily answers–yet. There’s a melancholy to Brazos’ music, but that hopeful feeling is just over the horizon: “everything that’s green turns gold” goes the bridge on “Charm.” It’s hard to dispute him there, especially when the music is this good.