Casual Victim Pile
Hometown SXSW showcasing sampler
SXSW showcase: Thursday, March 18, Emo's Annex, 11pm
There's something essentially Austin about Martin Crane and his band, Brazos. It's not an embrace of the city's hallowed music history or its sound, which slides further into nostalgia with each passing year, or an image of Austin as presented to the world. Instead, Crane seems to reflect an unwritten, unconcerned present, the semireluctant coming-of-age of an indie scene sprung from makeshift studios, art galleries, and dive bars on Austin's Eastside.
Like any maturation, it's a struggle between promise and necessity, a holding on to youthful oblivion even as it cedes to something defined and structured. Brazos' beautiful, subtle debut LP, Phosphorescent Blues, released last fall on local imprint Autobus Records, encapsulates that growth. More focused and intricate than 2007 EP A City Just as Tall, Crane's melodic, high-floating croon finds its contemplative counterpart in the trio's hypnotic piano and guitar arrangements, a meditative bed upon which his lyrics unfold like still-developing Polaroid snapshots.
"I think it's a record that you listen to when you ride your bike at night through an empty neighborhood," muses Crane, sitting in the afternoon sun at Lucky J's chicken and waffle truck on East Sixth. "I remember the first time I listened to the demos when I really felt like I appreciated it. I finished recording and just walked around the neighborhood at three in the morning feeling like I'd entered a different world. I think for it to be really felt, it needs a bunch of space around it."
In that seeking of space within the city, the necessity of meditative pause, Brazos' music blooms. And like the other acts within Autobus' artist collective, Brazos has evolved from the carefree enthusiasm of its Tonewheel Collective salad days to carve out some room against the shifting city scenery.