brazos phosphorescent blues
  • TUESDAY, DECEMBER 01, 2009

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When Brazos visited Music Hall of Williamsburg, they were on tour with the freak-out White Denim, and the only thing they had in common was an origin in Texas. White Denim is full of edgy cracked out rock trips. Brazos require a bit more engagement. Like a thinking man's band, they turn famous poems into songs. They drift in and out of consciousness. They rumble and they float, sometimes at once. And they make it look exceptionally easy. Martin Crane wrote some wonderfully thickened tunes, easily accessible, and deep enough for elongated exploration. The Brazos is a river in Texas, which adds to the depth of metaphors for this collection of songs; winding and fluid.

"Buddy" kicks it off with a finger snap/bass riff that sounds like it was influenced by Graceland (but not insistently like the meme-turned-band Vampire Weekends of the world). I think the referential synapses in my head just equate neat songwriting to Simon and his knack for word-smithery. Crane must be an avid reader. "Kid" picks up where "Buddy" slips off, jumpy and rythmic without being too loud, and snappy without any effort.

Brazos favors the White Rabbits school of difficult-to-analyze melodic contour. "Day Glo," the "lead single" would baffle the verse-chorus crowd with its spiral structure, the refrain basically consisting of the one-two "day glo" refrain, and a variety of background shifts. The effect is a dual picture in the minds eye; one side frolicking on a sun lit day, one lazily asleep. Its a perfect cross section of the album, a kind of deceivingly simple collection that keeps revealing new sides of itself.

More or less the preoccupation is the usual fare; love, loss, children, living, melancholy, joy, the spice rack of normal life-to-music pot-pies. I like the random piano composition in the middle, "Pues," a pesudo-masturbatory addition to a "rock" record for sure. Crane is definitely going for day at the park with Phosphorescent Blues: we've got slide, swings, soft breezes, sitting alone on the merri-go-round, and dozens of others audio vignettes played out.

Even though "Tell" feels like a call to arms with its marching snare and let's get it started bass line, the rest of the record (I mean its only two tracks at this point), seems to steadily swirl. Actually the entire record seems like an introduction, ready to burst into a chorus that never happens. Final track "For So Long Now" is particularly edgy in its crescendo, and even when it explodes into shakers and guitar, it still feels incomplete. The beginnings and ends of Crane's songs, kind of like the love, loss, children, living, melancholy, and joy in life; cyclical, never ending, mixed up. The good news? Rearranging the words to swirl like the record ("So Long For Now") would suggest we'll be seeing more out of this emotionally charged band in the future. -joe puglisi

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MP3: Brazos - "Day Glo" (Phosphorescent Blue)
Brazos on Myspace

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